PARIS: World Cup winner Lionel Messi scored and Kylian Mbappe missed a twice-taken penalty before getting injured as Paris Saint-Germain won 3-1 at Montpellier to move five points clear at the top of the French league on Wednesday.
Mbappe went down clutching his leg just under the right knee and limped off in the 21st minute — having earlier missed a twice-taken penalty and blazed the rebound over an open goal on his second effort.
It was unclear exactly what his injury was. Television cameras also caught him rubbing the back of his left thigh as he walked to the dressing room.
PSG coach Christophe Galtier told broadcaster Canal Plus “he took a blow behind the knee,” and then said at his news conference the injury does not appear serious.
“Is it a bruise? We don’t know yet. It doesn’t look very serious,” Galtier said. “We’re not too worried.”
The Argentina star Messi tucked home PSG’s second goal with a typically neat finish in the 72nd after being set up by Fabian Ruiz, who put PSG ahead in the 55th.
Striker Arnaud Nordin pulled one back in the 89th and, with the home team pushing forward, 16-year-old substitute Warren Zaire-Emery drove the ball home for 3-1 in stoppage time with his first goal for the club.
“It’s my first goal in the first division, so I’m very happy,” Zaire-Emery said after becoming PSG’s youngest scorer. The midfielder turns 17 in March.
Defending champion PSG are five points ahead of Marseille, who won 2-0 at Nantes to move one point ahead of Lens into second spot for the automatic Champions League place.
Lens lost 1-0 against Nice for their first home league defeat and second overall.
PSG visit both Monaco and Marseille this month and are at Marseille in the French Cup, as well as take on Bayern Munich in the first leg of their round-of-16 encounter in the Champions League on Feb. 14.
Earlier, Marseille extended their unbeaten run to 10 games overall.
Marseille scored in the 58th when Nantes central defender Joao Victor put the ball into his own net when tackling on-rushing winger Cengiz Under inside the penalty area. New signing Azzedine Ounahi, a midfielder with World Cup semifinalst Morocco, added the second goal in stoppage time on his Marseille debut.
Nantes had not conceded a goal in their seven previous games. Marseille have won seven of their past eight league matches under coach Igor Tudor.
Striker Gaetan Laborde netted for the second straight game as eighth-place Nice handed Lens thir first league defeat since Oct. 9.
Fourth-place Monaco continued their scoring form with a 3-2 home win against 19th-place Auxerre to stay one point ahead of fifth-place Rennes. Striker Wissam Ben Yedder and 17-year-old attacking midfielder Eliesse Ben Seghir both scored for Monaco, which has 13 goals in its past four league games.
Forward Amine Gouiri scored twice for Rennes in a 3-0 home win against 18th-place Strasbourg while mid-table Lyon drew 0-0 at home to Brest.
Elsewhere, English striker Folarin Balogun, who equalized in stoppage time when Reims drew 1-1 at PSG on Sunday, grabbed a hat-trick in his team’s 4-2 win against Lorient to move top of the scoring charts. His 14 goals put him one ahead of PSG striker Kylian Mbappé.
Balogun, who started his career at Premier League club Arsenal, netted his treble against goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who also began his career at Arsenal, and even went close to a fourth goal near the end.
Dutch striker Thijs Dallinga followed up his two goals for Toulouse last weekend with his team’s first goal in a 4-1 win against Troyes.
Also, Clermont earned a 0-0 draw at Lille and last-place Angers lost 2-1 at home to fellow struggler Ajaccio, which scored in the fourth minute of injury time through striker Mounaïm El Idrissy.
Angers has lost a French league record 13 straight matches and has won only two of 21 this season.