Paris Saint-Germain restored their five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of the World Cup break with a routine 5-0 win over Auxerre at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring early on following some good build-up play from Lionel Messi, who returned from injury to join the France forward and Neymar in attack.
A seventh win in a row for PSG in all competitions never looked in doubt when Carlos Soler added a second goal and then assisted Achraf Hakimi for the home side’s third.
Christophe Galtier made full use of his squad depth and substitutes Renato Sanches and Hugo Ekitike added gloss to the scoreline with a couple of late goals.
The serene nature of the contest ensured Galtier could replace a number of PSG’s Qatar-bound stars, with no players sustaining an injury problem of any sort.
Messi sent a delightful lofted ball over the Auxerre defence for Nuno Mendes to deliver a first-time pass towards Mbappe, who in turn helped it over the line with 11 minutes gone.
The goal stood following a VAR check for a possible handball against Neymar, but Auxerre nearly levelled as M’Baye Niang forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into a fine save.
PSG toiled before Mendes took the ball past a couple of players and picked out Soler to glance a header away from Benoit Costil and in off the far post early in the second half.
Soler turned provider six minutes later when playing in Hakimi to coolly slot past Costil from a one-on-one position.
Messi hit the post but could not get his name on the scoresheet, though Sanches fired in off the post before fellow substitute Ekitike profited from some poor defending to calmly add a fifth from close range.
What does it mean? Five-star PSG move five clear of Lens
Surprise package Lens kept the pressure on leaders PSG with victory over Clermont on Saturday – their fifth in a row – but PSG still have a healthy lead with 15 games played.
The Parisians are now unbeaten in 22 matches under Galtier in all competitions, winning 18 of those, in what has been a positive start for Mauricio Pochettino’s successor.
They are also now unbeaten in 28 home league matches, with the Parc des Princes remaining the toughest place to visit in European football.
Shot-shy hosts step up
PSG started with Mbappe, Messi and Neymar, but the hosts managed just two shots in the first half – their lowest tally in a league game since May 2021 (also two versus Brest).
They had seven shots after the restart, though, five of those on target and four resulting in a goal, with the reigning champions’ quality and squad depth shining through.
No stopping PSG
While PSG have been a joy to watch, with this the eighth time they have scored three or more goals in 15 league games this term, it does not bode well for a serious title race.
Indeed, this is only the fifth occasion a team has had 40 or more points at this point in a Ligue 1 campaign, with PSG responsible for all five of those.
Key Opta facts
– Auxerre have 13 points after 15 Ligue 1 games in 2022-23, their second-lowest tally at this stage in their top-flight history behind 1981-82 (11).
– Only Bayern Munich (10) have scored five or more goals in a game in all competitions in 2022 than PSG (nine).
– Mbappe scored his 190th goal in all competitions for PSG, 10 behind record holder Edinson Cavani.
– Only Caio Henrique and Jonathan Clauss (five) have delivered more assists in Ligue 1 this season among defenders than Nuno Mendes (four).
– Messi has hit the woodwork 18 times in all competitions since his first game with PSG on August 29, 2021, at least eight more than any other player for the club over the period.
– Galtier is only the second head coach to have lost none of his first 22 games on the PSG bench in all competitions (W18 D4), after Gerard Houllier (W16 D6).
PSG host Strasbourg on their return to Ligue 1 action after Christmas, while Auxerre face Monaco next up.