Playing with Lionel Messi is “easy” for Kylian Mbappe, who knows Paris Saint-Germain must find a higher level than they did against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
Messi scored twice to take his tally of Champions League goals to 123 as PSG came out on top 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Parc des Princes.
While he is yet to find the net in Ligue 1, Messi has now scored three times in UEFA’s flagship competition for his new club, taking him level with Mauro Icardi and Neymar for the most goals inside three Champions League appearances for PSG.
With the injured Neymar watching from the stands, Mbappe played a crucial part in both of Messi’s goals, first teeing up the 34-year-old to restore parity after Nordi Mukiele made it 2-1 to Leipzig, before winning the penalty from which the Argentine coolly chipped home the winner.
Mbappe opened the scoring in a frantic match, finishing brilliantly in the ninth minute to take his number of direct goal contributions for PSG in the Champions League to 40.
The youngster has already scored 28 goals in the Champions League; the most by any player in the competition before their 23rd birthday, ahead of Messi (25). Mbappe did, however, pull rank over Messi late on to take a second penalty, denying his team-mate the chance of a hat-trick, only to send his effort into the stands.
“We found each other tonight, it was good,” Mbappe told RMC Sport when asked about Messi.
“Now, Neymar will come back. We will have to be good together, all three of us. We will need to be efficient. But, it’s easy to play with Messi.”
While Mbappe and Messi got PSG out of trouble and sent Mauricio Pochettino’s side back to the top of Group A, it was another performance largely lacking in control, with Leipzig having 18 attempts in total, eight more than their hosts managed.
Andre Silva, who cancelled out Mbappe’s opener, had previously hit the woodwork, while former PSG midfielder Christopher Nkunku also went close on several occasions.
Though he is revelling in his growing relationship with Messi, Mbappe insisted the trend of performances cannot continue.
“In the league, we may be a bit laborious, but we have nine wins in ten games,” he said. “We have to do better, it’s true. For the moment, we are not playing well, [but] we are winning. But I think we have to play better to win more calmly.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Marquinhos, who was also full of praise for Mbappe’s display.
“Paris won, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “You have to suffer, there is no gift in football. We knew that there would be no easy matches. The main thing is to win, to gain confidence and experience.
“It’s great to have a player like [Mbappe]. He’s a very important player in the team. He plays great matches. It’s very important to have him fresh, with confidence. He helps us on the field, it is very good for us that he is there.”