After a convincing 5-1 win against defending champions Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday night, Paris Saint-Germain increased their advantage at the top of Ligue 1 to 13 points.
In what promised to be a duel of aggressive tactics, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino unleashed a front three of KylianMbappé, Angel Di Maria, and Lionel Messi, while Lille leader Jocelyn Gourvennec gave former Parisian Hatem Ben Arfa his first start.
PSG were given a gift when Lille goalkeeper Ivo Grbic mishandled Nuno Mendes' cross, allowing Danilo to tap home from close range in the tenth minute.
Lille equalised just before the half-hour mark when Hatem Ben Arfa beat Angel Di Maria before passing to Sven Botman, who beat Gianluigi Donnarumma from 10 yards before another Grbic gaffe allowed PresnelKimpembe to score from five yards to restore Paris' lead.
PSG took a two-goal lead seven minutes before halftime when Messi wonderfully chipped Grbic from 12 yards for his second league goal of the season. On the stroke of halftime, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner went close again as his exquisite free-kick crashed off the crossbar, leaving Grbic stranded.
PSG were not about to let their opponents off the hook, and they went for broke against the team who had beaten them to the title on the final day of the previous season.
PSG left the best for last, with Mbappé curling in a magnificent strike from 20 yards. Danilo added his second of the night early in the second half.
PSG have one more game to prepare for Real Madrid's Champions League visit, and Pochettino will be hoping for more of the same against Rennes on Friday night at the Parc des Princes.
PSG has increased the distance between themselves and second-placed Marseille, while Lille has plummeted to 11th place.
PSG IS IMPROVING, TO BE SURE.
In what has been a painful season for PSG, Sunday's 5-1 hammering of Lille seemed like Mauricio Pochettino's side is starting to crank up the gears ahead of a vital era for the club.
The recent performances of Danilo and Nuno Mendes, as well as the return of AchrafHakimi from AFCON duty with Morocco, will be a welcome boost for the leaders, but it will be the blossoming relationship between KylianMbappé and Lionel Messi that will be most pleasing for the capital club, who are expected to welcome back Neymar from injury for their crucial Champions League clash with Real Madrid in nine days.