PSG extend Ligue 1 lead with Montpellier win as Mbappe limps off

PARIS, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Lionel Messi scored as Paris St Germain stretched their Ligue 1 lead to five points with a 3-1 win at Montpellier after Kylian Mbappe limped off the pitch on Wednesday.

Mbappe, who also missed a penalty, held his left thigh as he was replaced after 20 minutes, but coach Christophe Galtier said the France forward had damaged his knee.

"It's a knock on the knee and it hurts behind the thigh," Galtier said, not looking too worried two weeks before his team take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16 first leg.

Following a lacklustre first half PSG burst into life after the break with Fabian Ruiz, Messi and Warren Zaire-Emery finding the net to put them on 51 points from 21 games.

Olympique de Marseille claimed a 2-0 victory at Nantes to leapfrog RC Lens, who dropped their first points at home in a 1-0 defeat by Nice, into second place.

Mbappe had a night to forget at La Mosson, having had his spot-kick parried away by Benjamin Lecomte in the eighth minute. He had to take it again, only for the Montpellier keeper to deny him again.

PSG, who had lost their two previous away games and were held to a last-gasp home draw by Stade de Reims on Sunday, were more compact on Wednesday and were rewarded in the 55th minute, when Ruiz volleyed home from Hugo Ekitike's headed pass.

Ruiz was the provider 17 minutes later, finding Messi with a laser-sharp pass for the Argentine forward to beat Lecomte with a low shot from close range.

Arnaud Nordin pulled one back for Montpellier but 16-year-old midfielder Zaire-Emery, who was born two years after Messi made his professional debut, put the result beyond doubt at the end of a counter-attack.

Earlier, Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi celebrated his first match for Marseille after joining from Angers with a cool finish following a spectacular dribble to add to Joao Victor's own goal.

With 46 points, OM lead third-placed Lens by one point after the northeners' 10-game winning streak at Bollaert ended with a loss to Nice who prevailed thanks to Gaetan Laborde's second-half strike.

Monaco stayed fourth, four points behind Lens, by beating AJ Auxerre 3-2.

England Under-21 striker Folarin Balogun bagged a hat-trick to help Stade de Reims beat Lorient 4-2 and move top of the scorers' charts.

Bottom club Angers were beaten 2-1 at home by AC Ajaccio to rack up a top-flight record 13 defeats in a row, beating the mark set by Dijon in the 2020-21 season and Cercle Athletique Paris (1933-34).

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond

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