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Dropped Mbappe comes on to grab crucial goal

Paris, Monday @PeopleSport11

Kylian Mbappe responded to being dropped by coming off the bench and scoring the opener as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at Marseille on Sunday to make it 11 wins out of 11 in Ligue 1 this season and match a long-standing European record.

Mbappe was a shock omission from the PSG starting line-up by coach Thomas Tuchel, with broadcaster Canal Plus reporting the move was a punishment after the teenage World Cup winner showed up late for the pre-match team talk.

But he was sent on in the 62nd minute of ‘Le Classique’ for Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and scored the breakthrough goal just three minutes later, being released by Angel di Maria and racing clear to finish past Steve Mandanda.

It was Mbappe’s 10th Ligue 1 goal this season, and Julian Draxler then wrapped up the victory in stoppage time. An 11th win on the bounce from the start of the campaign for PSG means they have equalled Tottenham Hotspur’s record from the 1960-61 season, the best in any of Europe’s big five leagues. “It was what the team needed,” Mbappe told Canal Plus of his cameo off the bench.

“A great team relies on its leaders and they need to be able to make the difference in key moments. I can take on that role and I did it today.”

The win record is a superb achievement for Tuchel, even if it is marred somewhat by PSG’s patchy performances in the Champions League, including a fortunate 2-2 draw at home to Napoli in midweek.

But the German admitted that the result had been overshadowed by the decision to drop Mbappe, which he intimated was a necessary measure. “I don’t like to play without Kylian. I hate playing without him in a match like this,” he said.

In Ligue 1, PSG are eight points clear of second-placed Lille, who beat Caen 1-0 on Saturday and visit the Parc des Princes next Friday. Marseille, meanwhile, are fifth, already 14 points behind the league leaders.

OM have now failed to beat their greatest rivals in 18 meetings in all competitions going back seven years, although they matched the reigning champions for long spells of this game.

Tensions always run high in this fixture, and there were a couple of brief hold-ups when Neymar tried to take corners, with objects raining down from the stands of the Velodrome aimed at the world’s most expensive player.

At one point in the second half, Neymar stepped away from the corner mark holding a miniature bottle of spirits that had been thrown in his direction.

While Neymar started, Tuchel left both Mbappe and Adrien Rabiot on the bench at kick-off. Edinson Cavani missed the game due to injury, so Cameroon striker Choupo-Moting made his first start since his surprise arrival late in the summer transfer window.  -AFP

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