Kylian Mbappe scored one goal and made another as Paris Saint-Germain beat Patrick Vieira’s Strasbourg 3-0 in Ligue 1 on Saturday but it is unbeaten Nice who are top of the table after a 1-0 victory over Marseille.
Mbappe opened the scoring for PSG with a 10th-minute penalty and set up Carlos Soler to make it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark on a wet and windy day in Paris.
The reigning champions added a third in the 77th minute courtesy of Fabian Ruiz to wrap up a routine victory.
It was a second straight win for PSG following their 4-1 defeat away to Newcastle United in the Champions League earlier this month, and they sit a point behind Nice in second place.
“The logical concern with these games straight after an international break is that it is clearly not easy for the players to switch their mentality but the team played well and managed the game very well,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.
He rested several regular starters with this game also coming just before a key Champions League meeting with AC Milan.
Achraf Hakimi and Ousmane Dembele were among those to be left out at kick-off, while Soler and Ruiz came in, as did Lee Kang-in.
South Korean international Lee was making his first appearance for PSG in over a month, having helped his country win football gold at the Asian Games in the meantime.
“In general all those players who have been involved less up to now this season did well. They got an opportunity today and made the most of it,” said Luis Enrique.
– Ten-man Marseille beaten –
However, there was no question of Mbappe being rested, and he opened the scoring from the penalty spot in front of an empty end of PSG’s stadium, closed by the French league for this encounter as a punishment after homophobic chanting during a win over Marseille last month.
The penalty was awarded for a foul on Goncalo Ramos, and Mbappe converted for his ninth club goal this season.
South African striker Lebo Mothiba then thought he had equalised for Strasbourg, only for his goal to be disallowed for offside following a VAR check.
Instead PSG doubled their lead on 31 minutes as Mbappe produced a step-over to beat his marker before cutting the ball back from the byline for Soler to prod in.
Soler set up the third goal late on for his fellow Spaniard Ruiz, not long after PSG suffered a scare when Mbappe went down needing treatment after Gerzino Nyamsi appeared to tread on his left foot.
However, the France captain managed to carry on.
Having sent out a team loaded with attacking players, just as he did in the defeat by Newcastle, Luis Enrique must decide whether to play the same way against Milan.
“Each match is different,” he insisted, “but my objective is to have 11 players attacking and 11 defending.”
It was a third straight loss for Strasbourg, with the club who were recently bought by Chelsea’s owners BlueCo struggling for goals and having won just once in six games now.
“My young players need to learn and learn very quickly,” said Vieira, whose line-up featured five outfield players aged 22 or under.
“We competed but we made too many mistakes to stand a chance.”
Later, the Mediterranean derby was decided when Marseille defender Leonardo Balerdi was sent off for a second yellow card and substitute Evann Guessand headed in the resulting free-kick in the 79th minute.
The result maintained Nice’s unbeaten record this season under 34-year-old Italian coach Francesco Farioli and left them top, although Cote d’Azur rivals Monaco will replace them at the summit by beating Metz on Sunday.
Nice have enjoyed a fine start to the season despite British owner Jim Ratcliffe being focused on acquiring a stake in Manchester United.
“We need to look at the league table as little as possible, but it has been a very positive start to the season,” said Farioli.
Marseille have won only once in four games under new coach Gennaro Gattuso and are seven points behind the leaders.