PSG ease past Dijon without banned Neymar

PARIS (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe scored twice and grabbed an assist as runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coasted to a 4-0 win over Dijon on Saturday night despite the absence of the suspended Neymar.

Pablo Sarabia struck the opener inside three minutes at the Parc des Princes, as PSG played without Neymar who was serving a one-match ban after his red card in last week’s win over Bordeaux.

Dijon, who beat PSG 2-1 at home last November, are hovering just above the relegation play-off place but held out for 70 minutes before PSG added a second through Mbappe.

The France international then set up Mauro Icardi for a third goal just moments after the Argentine came on as a replacement for Edinson Cavani.

Mbappe bagged his second and PSG’s fourth in stoppage time as Thomas Tuchel’s side preserved their 13-point lead over Marseille at the top of the table.

Paris Saint-Germain’s forward Kylian Mbappe vies for the ball against Dijon’s defender Mickael Alphonse. PHOTO: AFP

“It was a good match. We were able to score quickly which settled us down,” said PSG captain Marquinhos, who admitted his dismay at the decision to scrap the customary pre-match handshakes as part of safety measures related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The players also made their way into the ground via a side door, ditching the traditional entrance in front of dozens of supporters.

“We don’t like that too much,” said Marquinhos. “As a Brazilian, I like contact, the energy of people. We don’t like to stay in our corner. But you have to be vigilant to stay healthy.”

PSG travel to Lyon on Wednesday for a French Cup semi-final and play Strasbourg at the weekend, with the return leg against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on March 11.

“The group absolutely wants to show against Dortmund that it’s capable of taking this step forward,” said Tuchel.

“They’re having a very consistent season with lots of wins and strong performances. We can’t lose confidence in this team. The players have shown this week they want to play that game, and they did again today.”

The hosts were already without Marco Verratti due to suspension and injured skipper Thiago Silva, and lost Angel Di Maria to a thigh problem early in the first half.

Tuchel said he was confident Di Maria would make a swift recovery, adding the decision to take him off was one of precaution.