Kylian Mbappe impressed on his return to action as he helped Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-0 away Ligue 1 win over Nice.
The forward was making his first club appearance of the new season on Sunday after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty with France.
Mbappe scored a penalty that he won himself and then saw his saved shot converted by Angel Di Maria on the rebound as two PSG goals towards the end of the first half proved pivotal.
Nice were not at full strength themselves due the impact of COVID-19 but Patrick Vieira’s men were occasionally threatening until PSG captain Marquinhos headed in after the break to seal the win.
After Walter Benitez saved Di Maria’s volley, the visitors lost Idrissa Gueye to injury midway through the half, with Ander Herrera replacing him shortly before a golden opportunity for Mbappe to open the scoring.
The France international looked sure to score after a wonderful passing move involving Mitchel Bakker and Mauro Icardi, only to fire over with a left-footed effort.
Presnel Kimpembe was somehow unable to get on the end of a Di Maria corner and later miscued another effort, before Mbappe atoned for his miss.
Seven minutes before the break, Mbappe confidently sent Benitez the wrong way from the penalty spot after a purposeful run into the box had seen him fouled by Khephren Thuram.
Herrera almost made it two but Andy Pelmard deflected his shot onto the post, before lively Nice winger Rony Lopes – who had earlier curled just wide – forced Navas into a key save after a great one-two with Amine Gouiri.
But PSG moved firmly into control one minute into first-half stoppage time, Mbappe’s magnificent run and shot forcing Benitez to parry, with Di Maria on hand to power in on the follow-up.
Navas was impressively at full stretch to make a fingertip save from Youcef Atal after the break, while Benitez had to rush out to deny Icardi with his legs at the other end, with the former Inter striker hitting the post from close range soon after.
It was game over after 66 minutes, though, Marquinhos heading in a superb in-swinging free-kick from Di Maria.
A second Mbappe goal was ruled out for offside, while Navas saved well from Evann Guessand late on to preserve PSG’s clean sheet.
What does it mean? Convincing win just what PSG needed
After three consecutive 1-0 defeats stretching back to the Champions League final, a narrow, last-minute triumph against Metz last time out had not fully calmed nerves for PSG.
With Mbappe back and looking like a constant threat in a team display that produced three goals, two shots against the woodwork and having another goal disallowed, this was more like the PSG we are used to seeing in Ligue 1, even without Neymar. It was not total domination, though, as both teams racked up 14 attempts.
Di Maria delights
PSG winger Di Maria had gone three league games without a goal or assist, his longest drought since January 2019. He ended that run spectacularly here, with a goal and an assist, which was one of five chances created for his team-mates, the best of anyone on the pitch.
Atal all at sea
Nice defender Atal was tormented by Mbappe throughout and was beaten by the forward for both the penalty incident and the run leading to PSG’s second goal. Going forward, he forced a great save from Navas but a difficult day was summed up when he pulled a hamstring chasing Mbappe after the break.
Thuram also found things tough, giving away the spot-kick and failing to register a shot or a chance created before being substituted just before the hour mark.
PSG look to make it three straight wins when they are away to Reims in Ligue 1 next Sunday, the same day as Nice travel to Bordeaux.