PARIS: Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe punished Nantes with a first-half brace as Monaco strolled to a 4-0 victory on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to rebuild their three-point cushion at the top of Ligue 1.
Mbappe volleyed in the opener at the Stade Louis II with just four minutes gone and headed in his second in first-half stoppage time after Valere Germain had doubled Monaco’s lead.
Fabinho tucked away his sixth penalty of the season on 59 minutes to seal a fifth win in six outings for Monaco, who extended their unbeaten league run to 10 matches.
Leonardo Jardim’s free-flowing side are showing no sign of slowing down as a three-team title race looks poised to go down to the wire with Monaco chasing a first league crown since 2000.
“I continue to learn from the great players here and I am discovering all the time,” said Mbappe.
Radamel Falcao was left out the Monaco squad with muscle fatigue, but Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar returned to the line-up after coming off the bench in Wednesday’s thrilling 4-3 extra-time victory at Marseille in the last 16 of the French Cup.
Silva’s weaving runs were immediately a threat to Nantes and Mbappe profited from a stroke of good luck to guide the ball beyond Maxime Dupe when a shot from the Portuguese international was deflected into his path.
Brazilian left-back Lima forced a smart stop out of Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic with a crisply struck free kick, but Nantes paid heavily for a pair defensive errors as the hosts killed off the game just before the interval.
A poor clearing header allowed Kamil Glik to drill across goal, with Germain bringing the ball down on his chest and stabbing past Dupe for his ninth goal of the season.
Silva then pinched possession back from Felipe Pardo inside the Nantes half and his curling cross was glanced in by Mbappe as the 18-year-old netted for the eighth time in his last seven appearances.
Nantes compounded their problems when a rash challenge from Koffi Djidji on Lemar handed Monaco a penalty, with spot-kick specialist Fabinho converting for his seventh goal of the campaign.
Mbappe had a chance to complete his hat trick after a sublime first touch enabled him to spin away from the defense, but Dupe dived sharply to his right to palm the ball to safety.
Both Mbappe and Silva were then replaced with Jardim already looking ahead to next Friday’s clash at home to Bordeaux, as well as the return leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City on March 15.
Payet on target
Dimitri Payet struck with a clever improvised finish as Marseille recovered from last week’s heavy defeat by arch rivals PSG by thrashing bottom side Lorient 4-1 in Brittany to move up to sixth place.
Center-back Rolando headed Marseille into a sixth-minute lead, while Payet grabbed the visitors’ second midway through the first half.
Florian Thauvin added a third on 53 minutes before Morgan Sanson turned home his first goal for the club since arriving from Montpellier in January, with Cameroon international Benjamin Moukandjo netting Lorient’s consolation.
Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama saved a late Martin Braithwaite to earn his side a 1-1 draw at Toulouse after Yassine Benzia cancelled out Christopher Jullien’s first-half strike for the home side.
Reigning champions PSG and Nice both stayed in pursuit of Monaco following respective 1-0 wins over Nancy and Dijon on Saturday.
Edinson Cavani scored his league-leading 27th goal from the spot as PSG laboured past Nancy at the Parc des Princes, while Wylan Cyprien’s calm finish steered Nice to a vital win at Dijon.