Lionel Messi starred with a goal and an assist as all of Paris Saint-Germain’s front three scored in a 4-3 victory over Troyes on Saturday which restored their five-point advantage at the top of Ligue 1.
The league leaders responded to second-placed Lens’ win over Toulouse on Friday by twice coming from behind to see off a spirited Troyes at the Parc des Princes.
The attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have scored 43 goals between them already this season.
PSG coach Christophe Galtier can now turn his attention to Wednesday’s match at Juventus, which the French club have to win to be sure of finishing top of their Champions League group.
In Paris, Troyes forged ahead with a shock opening goal inside three minutes, as Rony Lopes stabbed the ball back for Mama Balde to lash a fine volley into the net past PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The hosts hit back midway through the first half, as Neymar’s clipped pass found the run of Carlos Soler and the midfielder slotted in to level.
The reigning champions then started to dominate, with Troyes ‘keeper Gauthier Gallon forced into a good save to keep out a Messi header.
But the visitors stunned the home crowd again early in the second period, with Guinea-Bissau forward Balde netting his second with a low strike on the turn.
Any thoughts of PSG suffering their first defeat of the season were quickly put to bed in the space of seven Messi-inspired minutes.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner hammered home his 12th goal of the campaign with a wonderful strike from 25 yards out which arrowed into the corner.
PSG took the lead for the first time in the game just after the hour mark, as Messi threaded a perfect pass through the Troyes defence for Neymar to fire past Gallon.
Galtier warning –
Mbappe should have made it a two-goal advantage, but he shot too close to Gallon after Neymar followed a mazy run through midfield with a remarkable flicked pass.
The France striker did get himself on the scoresheet with 14 minutes left, drilling a penalty high into the net.
Ante Palaversa pulled one back for the away team late on, but PSG held on.
Galtier though warned his team could not show the same sloppiness on Wednesday.
“The team thought much more about attacking, but it can’t be like that. There is a balance to respect,” he said.
“We have a lot of things to correct. If you concede three goals in the Champions League, you have little chance of winning.”
Another team with the Champions League on their mind, Marseille, threw away a two-goal lead at Strasbourg as they allowed the home side to force a point with a thrilling comeback.
Bamba Dieng and Issa Kabore gave Marseille the lead at half-time but Strasbourg’s intense pressure paid off as their South African forward Lebo Mothiba chested down a pass and fired home on 75 minutes.
Then two minutes into stoppage time, Kevin Gameiro scored an equaliser that sent the crowd at La Meinau into raptures.
Marseille, now 11 points behind PSG, will have to pick themselves up quickly as they host Tottenham on Tuesday looking for a place in the Champions League knockout round.
On Friday, Belgium international Lois Openda scored a hat-trick after coming on as a second-half substitute in Lens’ 3-0 victory over Toulouse.
That win moved Lens three points clear of third-placed Lorient ahead of their match against Nice on Sunday.
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