PARIS: Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria all scored twice as a rampant Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off the absence of Edinson Cavani to win 6-1 away to Ligue 1 rivals Rennes in the French Cup on Sunday.
PSG are bidding to win the trophy for the fourth season running, something no club has ever done before, and they showed Rennes no pity in Brittany.
Leading scorer Cavani was not involved after returning late from his Christmas and New Year break in Uruguay, so Di Maria came into the attack alongside Mbappe and Neymar.
Mbappe opened the scoring inside nine minutes, finishing after being picked out by Thiago Silva’s long ball over the top.
A brilliantly worked goal saw PSG double their lead, with Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti combining to tee up Neymar for the finish.
Di Maria turned in a Yuri Berchiche cross from the left for the third goal midway through the first half and the pick of the bunch came as Neymar made it 4-0 two minutes from half-time.
PSG started the move in their own penalty box before Neymar broke downfield and eventually applied the finish from Mbappe’s pass.
Rennes did pull one back in the second half from a Benjamin Bourigeaud penalty after a Thiago Motta handball, but there was still time for Unai Emery’s side to score twice more.
Mbappe set up Di Maria to make it five and the Argentine returned the favour with an assist for Mbappe to complete the rout.
PSG have now won their last 34 consecutive domestic cup ties, a run they can extend further as they go to Amiens in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Ligue 1 clubs were entering the French Cup in their first outings of 2018 after a two-and-a-half-week winter break, and most of the leading sides made it through.
Guido Carrillo scored a hat-trick as Monaco won 5-2 at fourth-tier Yzeure on Saturday, while Maxwel Cornet’s last-gasp free-kick saw Lyon win 3-2 at Ligue 2 side Nancy and a Jordan Amavi goal in extra time gave Marseille a 1-0 victory at home to second-tier Valenciennes.
With Mario Balotelli out and Wesley Sneijder allowed to leave to complete a move to Al Gharafa of Qatar, Nice were beaten 1-0 at Toulouse.
The biggest shock came as Bordeaux went down 2-1 away to fourth-tier Granville in Normandy despite having taken the lead through Younousse Sankhare.
Last season’s beaten finalists Angers were also eliminated, losing 2-0 at home to second-tier Lorient.
The draw for the round of 32 will be held on Monday evening.