Mbappé, Donnarumma lift Paris in Reims!
From Kylian Mbappé's hat-trick to Gigio Donnarumma's string of superb saves, Paris Saint-Germain turned in superb performances all over the park as they beat a strong Reims side 3-0 in their Ligue 1 Round 12 clash on Saturday evening. Paris Saint-Germain have taken control of Ligue 1!
A short - but perilous - trip to the Champagne region to make sure they head into the international break on a high: that was the task facing our Parisians on this chilly autumn evening. Faced with a hectic schedule, and forced to do without the suspended Achraf Hakimi and Randal Kolo Muani, Luis Enrique had to reshape his XI to face one of the best-performing teams in France in 2023. A real challenge! In response, the Spanish coach opted to include Carlos Soler, Fabian Ruiz and Kang-in Lee in his starting XI.
In real battles, you cannot do without these two pillars: a great striker and a great goalkeeper. On Saturday afternoon, Paris had just the men on hand to weather the storm and then pull clear of a home side who refused to give an inch. It has to be said that the flashes of brilliance from both sides quickly set the scene: this was going to be a match as open as it was challenging! Fortunately, in this little game of attack and defence, our Rouge et Bleu showed that they would be unstoppable...
Kylian Mbappé unleashed a stunning volley to convert a looping cross from Ousmane Dembélé, whose pace and footwork were as bewildering as ever (0-1, 3'). The packed house at the Stade Auguste Delaune had barely taken their seats before the Parisians took the lead!
The hosts sent a shiver down our spine with a quick reply, but Ito's goal was disallowed for off-side (7'). Paris then had immense goalkeeper Gigio Donnarumma and his feline presence on the line to thank for keeping out what seemed like certain goals (22', 33', 40').
To give himself some breathing space and respond to the tactical challenge imposed by Will Still, Luis Enrique pulled out another of his tricks: withdrawing Gonçalo Ramos from the attack - while bringing Vitinha into midfield. It was a decision that paid dividends, helping to restore balance to the game before the Parisians set about delivering the final blow.. and Kylian Mbappé soon struck again! Making an incisive run, our No.7 latched onto Carlos Soler's through-ball to make the break (0-2, 58').
As you might have guessed, this match was going to be decided in the penalty areas. We needed a great Kylian, but also an immense Gigio. The former, elusive on the ball, scored a resounding hat-trick, adding salt to the wound after a well executed counter-attack from Bradley Barcola (0-3, 82') and it was a hat-trick that could have become a quadruple, or even a quintuple, with a little extra luck (85', 86'). The latter was also exceptional at the other end of the pitch, our Italian international making no fewer than six crucial saves!
Three goals for one, a sparkling clean sheet for the other, and a whole-team performance to best a top-five league rival: this was a tasty victory! Not only was it a precious win, but it also put Les Rouge et Bleu in the driving seat at the top of the league, so they can spend the international break in control of the standings. With plenty of daunting challenges looming, this was a turning point not to be missed...