PARIS: Kylian Mbappe scored and came through unscathed along with fellow Paris Saint-Germain stars Lionel Messi and Neymar in their final match before the World Cup, a 5-0 Ligue 1 rout of Auxerre on Sunday.
PSG coach Christophe Galtier opted not to rest the attacking trio against the Burgundy side as the champions sought to extend their lead at the top of the table before the break for the tournament in Qatar.
And Mbappe scored the opener after 11 minutes in Paris for his 12th league goal this season after good work by Messi, Moroccan Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes.
Carlos Soler nodded in the second after 51 minutes and then set up Hakimi for the third six minutes later. Renato Sanches and Hugo Ekitike added two more in the final ten minutes.
The Parisians move five points ahead of Lens, who won 2-1 at home against Clermont on Saturday, with Rennes a further five points adrift in third.
For their final match before the World Cup, the MNM trio – Messi, Neymar, Mbappe – took to the pitch but did not really sparkle in a game played without great intensity.
The apathy of the magic trio did not, however, prevent the champions giving a demonstration of their goal-scoring prowess before a big break until their next Ligue 1 match on December 28 against Strasbourg.
Mbappe’s early goal following a beautiful cross from Messi relayed by Mendes, seem to anaesthetize the Parisian forwards.
No question of taking the slightest risk for the World Cup players in a tournament which could be the final one for veterans Messi and Neymar.
If Messi made an effort and even found the post with a curled shot from the left after 66 minutes, Neymar measured his pace, collapsing at the slightest contact and playing in slow motion, without any intensity, far from flamboyance of his first part of the season.
Before Paris pulled ahead in the second half, Auxerre proved dangerous on front of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal with attempts by Mbaye Niang (16) and Lassine Sinayoko (21) to get the equaliser for the side who sit 15th in Ligue 1.
Galtier gave some playing time to French defender Presnel Kimpembe, who came on for the final quarter of an hour having spent a month out with an Achilles tendon injury.
It was good news for the France team and Didier Deschamps nine days before the Blues open their World Cup defence against Australia on November 22.
His arrival coincided with the exits of Messi and Neymar after 74 minutes, not unhappy for once to leave the field prematurely.
Messi, who tasted glory in the Copa America last year, will be hoping to fire Argentina to World Cup glory for the first time since 1986.
Mbappe will be one of the key players for defending champions France in Qatar and Neymar will spearhead Brazil’s push for a sixth World Cup crown.
The tournament starts with a match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador on November 20.