PSG boss Pochettino: Only matter of time before Mbappe started scoring
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Mauricio Pochettino knew it was only a matter of time before Kylian Mbappe returned to goalscoring form after netting a brace in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 rout of Montpellier.
Mbappe had been criticised following four games without a goal for PSG, and just two in his previous eight matches across all competitions.
But Mbappe responded to his critics with two goals and an assist as Ligue 1 champions PSG eased past 10-man Montpellier in Paris on Friday.
Mbappe is decisive every 58 minutes this season in Ligue 1 (14 goals and six assists) – the best ratio among players involved in more than one goal, per Opta. This is the first time he has been involved in three goals in the same league game (two goals and one assist) since February 2020 (against Dijon).
“I was happy before with his performance because his compromise, but also now that he has scored,” PSG head coach Pochettino told reporters.
“We know that for a forward, to score goals or give assists it is fundamental, is part to generate this confidence that they need. So we are happy.
“We knew it was only a matter of time for Kylian to find himself again with the goal and the good performances.”
After Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin was sent off in the 19th minute, Mbappe broke the deadlock 15 minutes later before teeing up star team-mate Neymar on the hour in the French capital.
PSG forward Mauro Icardi made it 3-0 a minute later, and Mbappe completed the scoring in the 63rd minute as the league leaders moved three points clear atop the table, with Lille due to play Rennes.
It was the first time in PSG’s history that they scored three goals in the space of three minutes (three minutes and nine seconds exactly) in a Ligue 1 game.
Neymar and Mbappe have combined for 21 goals in Ligue 1 since 2017-18 – only the duos of Luis Suarez-Lionel Messi (31), Harry Kane-Son Heung-min (21) and Robert Lewandowski-Thomas Muller (25) have combined for more over the period.
Since his world-record arrival from Barcelona in 2017, Neymar has been involved in one Ligue 1 goal every 66 minutes (51 goals and 29 assists) – the best ratio among players involved in more than one goal over the period.
Neymar has scored 81 goals in 100 games in all competitions for PSG, but Pochettino praised the Brazilian’s defensive contribution.
“I believe that the defensive and offensive balance is very important on every team,” Pochettino said. “When you have so much talent inside the pitch, players so destabilising, you also run the risk of losing this defensive stability which is so much needed to compete in really big occasions.
“When the level of your opponent can be compared to you, the difference is not only made in the offensive phase, but if you are capable to defend and be able to recover the ball as soon as possible.
“I am happy too with the effort that Neymar has been doing in the last weeks. It is a player with an enormous amount of compromise. It makes us really happy but we already know what he does with the ball on his feet, but when he does this effort to help the team, that talks very well about him.”