Kylian Mbappé became Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time top scorer in Ligue 1, helping them to a 3-1 win against 10-man title rivals Lens on Saturday.
The striker made the most of Salis Abdul Samed’s 19th-minute dismissal to score his 139th top-flight goal for PSG and overtake Edinson Cavani’s effort to beat Brice Samba in the box.
Further goals from Vitinha and Lionel Messi helped Christophe Galtier’s side focus on the pitch at the Parc des Princes after a week of distractions off the pitch.
Above all, it sees them open up a nine-point lead over Franck Haise’s visitors, who face a monumental task to rein in the champions with seven games to go.
A cautious opening quarter exploded as Lens suddenly found himself a man underneath, after Abdul Samed was shown a straight red to crunch on Achraf Hakimi’s ankle.
PSG wasted little time in making their lead count, with Mbappé scoring his historic goal from the right post in the 31st minute as a prelude to a purple patch.
Vitinha buried a 25-yard rocket past Samba in the 37th minute to double the lead, before Messi played a one-two through Mbappe and went past the goalkeeper three minutes later.
However, hopes of a further defeat did not materialize after the break and Lens were given a lifeline when the VAR cited Fabian Ruiz for a hand ball just before the hour mark.
Przemyslaw Frankowski duly sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way, and from there the visitors proceeded to punch above their weight in a spirited final half-hour.
But there would be no great comeback, and with three more points in the bag, it is PSG who hold all the aces going into the final stretch of the season.
What does it mean? Mbappé makes it magical
After back-to-back defeats to Rennes and Lyon, PSG got back on track by beating Nice and it was imperative that they follow up with a win against Lens.
Of course they were aided by the men’s advantage, but Mbappé’s history-making spell, complete with goals and assists, helped them rid themselves of those hoping for another blunder.
Messi makes the connection
That winning combination between France’s Mbappé and Argentina’s Mbappe doesn’t appear to have suffered too much in their World Cup final face-off last December.
Now with the game’s biggest prize under his belt, Messi has continued to play with impressive freedom this season. He has now scored 23 goals since the start of last season in Ligue 1 under Mbappe, a dozen more than the closest pair.
Abdul Samed sees red
There could not have been a more unfortunate game for the man from Lens had he received his marching orders, but that was how he was sent for an early bath.
With 69 fouls, he has conceded the most in Ligue 1 this year. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before he crossed the finish line.
Opta key facts
– PSG have collected 72 points after 31 games in Ligue 1 this season. The previous eight teams to score 72 or more points at this stage of the season (with three points for a win) became champions.
– PSG have failed to keep seven consecutive Ligue 1 home games for the first time since 2012.
– Abdul Samed has received his third red card in Ligue 1, two of which came with Clermont last season. Since the start of the 2021-22 season, only Teji Savanier has been sent off more often than him (four times).
– Mbappe became the player with the most goals for a single Ligue 1 team in the 21st century. He became the first player to score 20 goals in four top-flight seasons since Pauleta (also four between 2000 and 2006).
– Since his Ligue 1 debut in 2015-16, Mbappe has scored against 29 different opponents in Ligue 1 (30 faced), more than any other player.
– Lens’ Lois Openda attempted eight shots in this match, the most by a player in a Ligue 1 match against PSG since Bakary Sako’s time with Saint-Etienne in December 2011 (10).
PSG travel to Angers next Friday, while Lens host Monaco on Saturday.