By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Neymar made his return to the pitch after a three-month injury lay-off as Paris St Germain celebrated their eighth Ligue 1 title with a 3-1 win against Monaco at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
The Brazil striker played the whole second half in his first appearance since Jan. 23, but it was Kylian Mbappe who shone with a hat-trick to put PSG on to 84 points with five games remaining.
PSG, who had picked up only one point from their last three games, enjoyed a celebration night after officially being crowned earlier on Sunday when second-placed Lille, now 19 points behind on 65, were held to a goalless draw at Toulouse.
The runaway champions can clinch a domestic double when they take on Stade Rennais in the French Cup final next Saturday.
“We played a good, solid game even if we are not in our best period,” said coach Thomas Tuchel, who also welcomed back Edinson Cavani after the Uruguay striker had missed more than two months of competition through injury.
Marco Verratti, however, could miss the Stade de France showdown after he picked up a possible ankle injury 15 minutes from time.
‘Notre Dame’ replaced the players’ names on the back of the PSG shirts, while an image of the cathedral was printed on the front — an emotional touch at the end of a week scarred by the fire that had ripped through Paris’s beloved monument.
Mbappe opened the scoring in the 15th minute after a one-two with Moussa Diaby and doubled the tally eight minutes before the interval after another fine one-two, this time with Dani Alves.
Mbappe tapped in from Alves’ cross to become the first French player to score 30 goals in the French top flight since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1990.
Aleksandr Golovin reduced the arrears 10 minutes from time when he took advantage of some loose defending to beat Alphonse Areola from just inside the box.
Monaco, the only team to break PSG’s domination as champions in the last seven years back in 2017, were left in 16th place on 32 points, six above the relegation zone.
Earlier, Lille dominated at Toulouse but had a Thiago Mendes goal disallowed on the hour and never managed to break the deadlock.
Lille lead third-placed Olympique Lyonnais by six points and fourth-placed St Etienne, who won 2-0 at Stade Reims, by nine.
The top three qualify for the Champions League with the third-placed team having to go through the third qualifying round to take part in the group stage.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar, Christian Radnedge and Ian Chadband)