Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe was so good that even Caen supporters treated the rising star of French football to an ovation when he left the pitch.
The teenage striker tormented their team throughout the afternoon, posting yet another remarkable performance in the French league. Mbappe scored twice Sunday and earned a penalty as Monaco stretched its lead at the top of the standings with a 3-0 away win.
Mbappe, who has now scored nine of Monaco’s last 18 league goals, took his personal tally to 12 league goals this season with the composure of a seasoned striker.
Mbappe put Monaco in front in the 13th minute after making the most of a long ball from defender Jemerson. Mbappe controlled the ball with a fine first touch, combined well with Valere Germain for a one-two, evaded two defenders and unleashed a left-footed shot past `keeper Remi Vercoutre to cap the move.
The 18-year-old Mbappe, whose skills have led to comparisons with France great Thierry Henry, showed unselfishness four minutes later when he let a ball go through his legs, a move that set up Germain in the box. The striker had his shot blocked by a defender and the ball was slightly wide.
Mbappe’s speed was on display after the interval when he burst down the left flank and won a penalty after running half the pitch before defender Damien Da Silva fouled him. Fabinho made it 2-0 from the spot and Mbappe completed his brace with nine minutes left with a header from Bernardo Silva’s cross.
The result moved Monaco six points clear of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which hosts Lyon later Sunday. Caen is four points above the relegation zone.
Mbappe was included Thursday in France coach Didier Deschamp’s squad for a World Cup qualifier in Luxembourg and a friendly against Spain.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently said he could see similarities between Mbappe and Henry, who also played for Monaco early in his career. The youngster’s talent has been noticed by big European sides and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said this week that the Spanish giants tried to lure him before he signed with Monaco.
Monaco could have been rewarded with another penalty at the stroke of halftime after Thomas Lemar was stopped by Silva, but referee Antony Gautier did not agree.
Caen was overrun throughout and created only a few worthwhile moves. Its best chance was foiled by Danijel Subasic in the 72nd, a header from Alaeddine Yahia that the Monaco goalkeeper easily stopped.
DIJON 0, SAINT-ETIENNE 1
Saint-Etienne posted its 1,000th win in the French league after Jordan Veretout scored the only goal to end a four-game winless run for his team.
One of the most popular clubs in France, Saint-Etienne has won a record 10 league titles. Only two other clubs, Marseille and Bordeaux, have reached the 1,000-win mark.
Saint-Etienne remains seventh in the league, with 17th-placed Dijon out of the relegation zone only on goal difference.