Lionel Messi scored as Paris Saint-Germain stretched their Ligue 1 lead to five points with a 3-1 win at Montpellier – despite Kylian Mbappe limping off the pitch.
Mbappe, who also missed a penalty, held his left thigh as he was replaced after 20 minutes, but coach Christophe Galtier said the France forward had damaged his knee.
“It’s a knock on the knee and it hurts behind the thigh,” Galtier said. PSG play Bayern Munich in their Champions League last-16 first leg in two weeks’ time.
Mbappe had a night to forget, having had his spot-kick parried away by Benjamin Lecomte in the eighth minute. The France forward was handed a reprieve and allowed to take the penalty again, only for the Montpellier goalkeeper to deny him for a second time.
PSG, who had lost their two previous away games and were held to a last-gasp home draw by Reims on Sunday, were much improved and were rewarded in the 55th minute, when Fabian Ruiz volleyed home from Hugo Ekitike’s headed pass.
Fabian was the provider 17 minutes later, finding Messi with a laser-sharp pass for the Argentine forward to beat Lecomte with a low shot from close range.
Arnaud Nordin pulled one back for Montpellier, but 16-year-old midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery, who was born two years after Messi made his professional debut, put the result beyond doubt at the end of a counter-attack.
Elsewhere, Marseille claimed a 2-0 victory at Nantes to leapfrog Lens, who dropped their first points at home in a 1-0 defeat by Nice, into second place.
Azzedine Ounahi celebrated his first match for Marseille after joining from Angers with a cool finish following a spectacular dribble to add to Joao Victor’s own goal.
With 46 points, Marseille lead third-placed Lens by one point. Monaco stayed fourth, four points behind Lens, by beating Auxerre 3-2.
England U21 striker Folarin Balogun – on loan from Arsenal – bagged a hat-trick to help Reims beat Lorient 4-2 and move top of the Ligue 1 scorers’ charts.
Bottom club Angers were beaten 2-1 at home by Ajaccio to rack up a top-flight record 13 defeats in a row, beating the mark set by Dijon in the 2020-21 season and Cercle Athletique Paris (1933-34).