European Golden Shoe: Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe both score braces at the weekend, Argentine still ahead by four goals
What's the story?
Just after Kylian Mbappe had seemingly closed the gap with Lionel Messi in the race for the European Golden Shoe by scoring a brace in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Dijon on Saturday, the Argentine scored a brace of his own in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Eibar on Sunday to remain four goals ahead of the Frenchman.
In case you didn't know...
French World Cup winner Mbappe has been the only real competition Messi has faced in terms of goalscoring this season, with the 20-year-old matching the Argentine's La Liga goal tally step for step with his exploits in the French Ligue 1. With the league title already wrapped up, Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Dijon 4-0 in Saturday's penultimate matchday in Ligue 1. Argentine winger Angel Di Maria opened the scoring with a curling effort in the third minute and he stepped up again, providing a splendid cross for Uruguayan hitman Edinson Cavani to nod in PSG's second of the night in the very next minute. Mbappe, who was voted the Best Young Player at the 2018 World Cup, stepped up to score a brace and put the match beyond any doubt. He was the quickest to react after the goalkeeper parried an Cavani shot and slotted it into an empty net to make it 3-0 in the 36th minute. His electric pace saw him beat the entire Dijon defence in the 56th minute and chip the ball smartly over the goalkeeper to register his 32nd goal of an incredible Ligue 1 season. He is an astonishing 10 goals ahead of his nearest rival in the Ligue 1 top goalscorers' list - Lille's Nicolas Pepe, who has 22 goals to his name.
Highlights from PSG's 4-0 win over Dijon FCO today, where Mbappe scored a brace
The heart of the matter
Messi scored a superb brace as Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw by Eibar, with the 12th placed side in La Liga giving the league champions a run for their money. Ernesto Valverde rested several players in preparation for next weekend's Copa del Rey final against Valencia, with Arturo Vidal starting in place of Arthur, Malcom in place of Luis Suarez and Jasper Cillessen in place of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The under-strength Blaugrana conceded early with left-back Marc Cucurella, who is on-loan at Eibar from Barcelona, scoring with a left footed drive that Cillessen should have saved at the near post.
Messi stepped up soon to equalise, latching onto a splendid through ball from Vidal and smartly slid tha ball past the onrushing goalkeeper in the 32nd minute. Barcelona pressed the advantage and took the lead in the very next minute with Ivan Rakitic releasing Messi, who beat the offside trap with a lung-bursting run and deftly lifted the ball over goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
A spirited Eibar, however, refused to be pushed back and restored parity in the 45th minute. A poor headed clearance from goalkeeper Cillessen found Eibar Pable de Blasis and the Argentine scored through a half-volley from 30 yards out. Messi finished his La Liga season with an astonishing 36 league goals from 29 starts, becoming the first player to win the coveted Pichichi trophy (given to the top-scorer in a La Liga season) six times since Telmo Zarra achieved the feat way back in 1952-53 season. He finished 15 goals clear of his nearest competitor and club mate Suarez, who has 21 goals to his name.
Messi equalised for Barcelona after Eibar had taken an early lead
Messi's second goal against Eibar
Mbappe must now score four goals in PSG's final Ligue 1 match against Stade Reims next Saturday to catch up to Messi. With this seemingly unassailable lead, Messi in all likelihood will win a record sixth European Golden Shoe.