Mbappe-Messi double act earns PSG comeback win against Leipzig
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Paris St Germain v RB Leipzig – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – October 19, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal with Kylian Mbappe REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Paris St Germain v RB Leipzig – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – October 19, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Georginio Wijnaldum in action with RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Paris St Germain v RB Leipzig – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – October 19, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Marquinhos with teammates after the match REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
PARIS (Reuters) -Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi found their groove as they inspired their side to a 3-2 comeback victory at home to RB Leipzig in a Champions League thriller on Tuesday.
Mbappe was the first to strike and Messi had the France forward to thank for his second-half double after the Ligue 1 side had fallen 2-1 behind following goals by Andre Silva and Nordi Mukiele either side of the interval.
Mbappe, who missed a stoppage-time penalty, set up Messi for the equaliser and won the spot kick that the Argentine converted with an ice-cool chip after what had been a lacklustre performance from the club’s new signing.
The result left PSG top of Group A with seven points from three games, one point ahead of Manchester City, who demolished Club Brugge 5-1 away earlier on Tuesday. Leipzig have no points.
“They pressed really hard and targeted Marco Verratti,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, who had to deal with the absence of the injured Neymar and suspended Angel Di Maria.
“It was a very tough game but the team showed their character again.”
Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch added: “There’s a massive difference between us and PSG but the fact that we almost made it says a lot. We need to trust this young squad.”
Before Mbappe and Messi linked up like two old team mates, PSG often looked out of sorts, incapable of dealing with Leipzig’s high pressure game.
Jesse Marsch’s side pressed hard from the outset and after eight minutes, PSG’s Keylor Navas had already made three saves.
It was a double-edged sword for the visitors, however, as PSG threatened on the break and they opened the scoring after nine minutes.
Julian Draxler flicked a Marquinhos long pass into the path of Mbappe, who dummied his marker before firing a low shot past Peter Gulacsi for his first Champions League goal this season.
Leipzig did not back down and in the 27th minute Silva’s volley crashed against Navas’s left-hand post. A minute later Silva turned Angelino’s cross in at the far post to give the German side a deserved equaliser.
Leipzig were the better team and Christopher Nkunku came close to giving them the advantage three minutes before the break when his low shot went just wide after a series of dribbles.
PSG started the second half well, with Messi finding space between the lines, but it was Leipzig who took the lead in the 57th as Mukiele latched onto another Angelino cross at the far post.
The hosts continued to struggle but a Tyler Adams back pass was intercepted by Mbappe who sped into the area and fed Messi, with the Argentine tapping the ball into the empty net after Gulacsi parried his shot onto the inside of the post after 67 minutes.
It was Mbappe who had set up Messi for PSG’s second goal in their 2-0 victory against Manchester City in the previous round of matches.
Seven minutes later, Mbappe was brought down by Mohamed Simakan and Messi converted the resulting penalty in clinical fashion before again pointing to his strike partner, who has set up his three PSG goals so far.
PSG were awarded another penalty four minutes into added time after a VAR review for a Josko Gvardiol foul on Achraf Hakimi but Mbappe skied it over the bar, although that did not tarnish a sublime overall performance from the 22-year-old.
PARIS (Reuters) -Lionel Messi said on Wednesday he wanted to power Paris St Germain to their first Champions League trophy, putting the tearful farewell he bade to Barcelona behind him after signing a two-year contract with the deep-pocketed French soccer powerhouse.
Messi joined the star-studded PSG as a free agent after Barcelona, where he begun and always imagined he would play out his career, acknowledged last week they could no longer afford him.
Thousands of PSG fans thronged the side’s Parc des Princes stadium, daring to believe their team would now deliver the Champions League having hoovered up domestic titles since free-spending owners Qatar Sports Investment European arrived in 2011 but always fallen short of European soccer’s top prize.
Messi said he was hungry to add more Champions League titles to the four he won with Barcelona.
“That’s why I am here (to win trophies). It’s an ambitious club,” Messi told a news conference.
After years of failing to get beyond the quarter-finals, PSG finally reached the final in 2020, but lost to Bayern Munich, while last season they went out in the semi-finals.
“My dream is to win another Champions League, and I think this is the ideal place to be to do that,” added Messi, who in a nod to his first squad number in senior football at Barcelona will wear the No. 30 jersey at PSG.
The Argentine conceded he did not know when he would make his debut, having not played since winning the Copa America with his country last month.
“I’m coming back from holiday. I need a bit of a pre-season to get myself going,” he said.
FAIR PLAY RULES
Messi will join former Barca team mate Neymar in Paris.
The Brazilian left Catalonia for the French capital in a world record 222 million euro ($259.94 million) deal in 2017, but never hid his desire to link up with his close friend once again on the pitch.
They will now line up with French Word Cup-winner Kylian Mbappe in a potent front-three attack.
“To play with the likes of Neymar and Mbappe is insane,” Messi continued.
France’s top soccer league has always been perceived as the poorer cousin to top flight leagues in neighbouring England, Germany, Spain and Italy.
PSG’s Qatari money is enabling PSG to compete at their level, though much of the rest of the league is way adrift in terms of resources. In unusual comments praising a club’s transfer dealings, Ligue 1 President Vincent Labrune celebrated Messi’s signing as a big win for French soccer.
“The arrival of Messi will bolster the attractiveness and visibility of our championship across continents,” Labrune said in a statement. He thanked the club’s owners for creating what he called one of sport’s biggest franchises globally.
However, some commentators have asked how PSG could afford to sign Messi within the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA.
UEFA’s FFP rules are designed to prevent clubs spending more than they earn. Spain’s La Liga’s own FFP rules are more stringent than UEFA’s, with each club given a salary cap they must adhere to.
“We’re always attentive to Financial Fair Play. It’s the first thing we check with the commercial, financial and legal people before signing someone,” PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi told the same news conference.
Messi held up his new shirt to thousands of fans outside the stadium, waving shyly as they beat drums, released smoke flares and chanted his name.
Local fan Nelson Dross, 17, told Reuters: “Why do I love him? Because he makes us dream. He’s a magician, a genius.”
Messi wept on Sunday as he told Barcelona fans he was leaving his childhood club.
“I’ll always be thankful to Barca and their fans. I went there as a boy, and we had some good and bad times,” he said on Wednesday.
Asked how he would feel if the time came to square up against his old club, he replied: “It would be nice on the one hand to face them in the Champions League, especially with fans, but on the other strange to go back to my home in another team’s shirt – but that’s football.”