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Mbappe settling in nicely as Neymar leads PSG to Metz rout

12:52 AM GMT+4 09/09/2017
Kylian Mbappe Edinson Cavani Metz PSG Ligue 1 08092017
Even if it was not always the a fluent performance and the full-time score was flattering, the potential that the Parisian side boast is frightening

It was fitting that on Kylian Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain debut, the capital side were wearing gold, for everything the teenager seems to touch seems to go that way.

If there were any fears that the weight of a €180 million price tag might weigh the young France international striker down, those were abolished at Metz’s Stade Saint-Symphorien as he struck what proved to be the winning goal on what was a testing occasion for PSG. 

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Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the first half after being teed up by Neymar but Emmanuel Riviere’s unlikely equaliser before the break raised doubts for the visitors that were not answered until their new striker took to the fore after the interval. 

Indeed, the former Newcastle man should have scored again early in the second half but after an astonishing error from Alphonse Areola, he somehow upstaged the keeper with an even more astounding miss. 

Furthermore there will be doubts raised over the legitimacy of Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s red card, which led to the floodgates opening and the capital side running out winners with a flattering 5-1 scoreline. 

The former Tottenham man aggressively challenged Mbappe from behind as the ex-Monaco youngster attempted to launch a counter-attack. It was the sort of moment that would barely raise the question of a yellow card in the Premier League, but this is Ligue 1 and such tackles are treated with a good deal more severity, as the veteran should have been aware.

Within a couple of minutes, the boos ringing out around the ground were deafening as Mbappe had pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the Metz box to drill into the corner. Home boss Philippe Hinschberger was sent to the stand for his protests.

From that moment, there was only going to be one winner, with Neymar, Cavani and Lucas adding their names to the scoresheet.

But while PSG’s record in Ligue 1 reads a flawless five wins from five, this was by no means an entirely polished match from Unai Emery’s side.

The Spaniard had offered a stronger line-up than expected, thrusting Cavani and Neymar both into the action after long trips to South America this week, while Julian Draxler started for the first time this season as he moved into a 4-2-3-1 formation in order to account for the absence of the suspended Marco Verratti.

A long-time advocate of this formation, PSG’s display in Metz suggests it is not a full-time solution to the problem of deploying all their attacking talent – certainly not in this guise.

Neymar was stationed off to the left but persistently drifted more central, taking up room that could have been more effectively used by Mbappe. With Metz intent on playing a stifling match, closing space down around their box with as many bodies as possible, this further highlighted this issue in the opening hour before PSG finally and emphatically cut free.

Certainly, both players had their moments of individual and collective brilliance, but there can be little doubt that they can be more effectively used in tandem. These are mere teething issues, though, as players and coach learn about each other. 

What was encouraging for Emery, however, was that the primary forward three seemed to strike up an instant understanding. It is now his job to exploit that as effectively as possible. 

Perhaps it will take weeks or even months, but there can be no question that Mbappe will add value to this already impressive array of attacking players. Nineteen goals in five games without ever truly hitting top form is not bad going at all.