Neymar Returns to PSG from Injury as Kylian Mbappe Notches Hat-Trick vs. Monaco

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2019

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (Up) celebrates with Paris Saint-Germain's French defender Presnel Kimpembe during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Monaco (ASM) on April 21, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Neymar returned from injury to help Paris Saint-Germain celebrate being crowned Ligue 1 champions on Sunday. Les Parisiens officially retained the title earlier in the day, thanks to Lille's goalless draw away to Toulouse.

PSG marked the occasion by beating Monaco 3-1 at the Parc des Princes, with Kylian Mbappe netting a hat-trick before Aleksandr Golovin got a late consolation for the visitors. Afterward, Mbappe reaffirmed his desire to reach his full potential in the French capital despite links with Real Madrid:

Neymar played the entire second half in his first action since suffering a metatarsal injury against Strasbourg in the Coupe de France back in January.

While Neymar's return was the big news, Mbappe made sure he wasn't upstaged with a superb performance against his former club. The 20-year-old scored twice during the first half, each time showcasing the pace, close control and growing ruthless streak fast becoming hallmarks of his game.

He raced clear to meet an astute through pass from 19-year-old Moussa Diaby to put PSG ahead after just 15 minutes.

Mbappe continued to menace the Monaco back line with his pace, and he went through again seven minutes before the break. This time, Dani Alves played him in, and the cool, precise finish offered evidence a young player who can be a touch profligate at times is becoming more assured when chances come his way.

By the time Mbappe converted inside the box, thanks to another pass from Alves, 10 minutes after the restart, he had made history in the French top flight:

The youngster had also convinced many he is the true talisman of this PSG team:

While Mbappe's star is on the rise, it's too early to diminish the importance of Neymar just yet. The Brazilian may not have found the net during his 45-minute cameo, but he did provide enough slick touches and deft passes to offer a reminder of why he's a special player.

Neymar's radar didn't fail him when he played in Diaby to score, only for the forward to be ruled offside, a decision that still stood even though replays appeared not to support it.

PSG are better any time Neymar's flair and vision are put to use. It's also true Les Parisiens have struggled somewhat without their magic No. 10 despite retaining the title with room to spare.

The title hasn't been won in style, with defeats to Nantes and Lille, along with a draw against Strasbourg, preceding the win over Monaco.

PSG's memorable collapse against Manchester United in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League also served to underline how much Neymar has been missed.

Mbappe is growing in stature, but Neymar is still a player capable of helping PSG reach the goal of dominating the European scene. Keeping him free from injury and in partnership with an improving Mbappe will be vital to those hopes next season.

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