Lionel Messi scored his first goal at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and it was an important goal, helping to put Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to the sword in a 2-0 Champions League win for the French club.
Messi’s goal was both magnificent and so typical of the Argentine, as he soared from the right and played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe on the edge of the box, fending off Aymeric Laporte before sending a one-two. first hit high in the report.
It raised the roof at Parc des Princes, as PSG supporters celebrated when they saw the six-time Ballon d’Or winner open his account for the club he joined in August.
“The most important thing was to win the game against a great team, one of the favorites,” Messi told Canal Plus television.
“It’s true that I was getting desperate to score my first goal. I hadn’t played a lot recently and had only played here at home once but I’m slowly settling into the team.”
Idrissa Gana Gueye, arguably PSG’s best player this season, had given the hosts an early lead to let City chase after the game.
Guardiola’s side, who beat the French club in the semi-finals last season before losing the final, dominated much of the game between the two goals but their finish let them down.
They will particularly regret the moment in the first half when Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva each hit the bar quickly, but City will still be confident they advance to the last 16.
“We controlled them and unfortunately we couldn’t score. It’s football. Nothing to say except my biggest compliment to the team,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
Of Messi, he added: “We know it’s impossible to control Leo. He hasn’t seen a lot of the ball, but he’s unstoppable.”
PSG and Club Brugge, 2-1 winners at RB Leipzig, are tied at four points for the top of Group A, with City three points behind.
The Premier League champions are hoping to get their revenge on PSG when they meet in the second leg, but it was a night for Qatari rivals City backed by Abu Dhabi to take advantage of the glow of having Messi.
The former Barcelona man had missed PSG’s last two games with a knee blow, but he was still expected to be saved for that glamorous tie.
He had only completed 90 minutes for PSG before this game since arriving to team up with Neymar and Mbappe in a dream frontline.
De Bruyne escapes the red card
However, the surprise star of the French side so far this season has been Gueye, the Senegalese midfielder who has four goals to his name after opening the scoring eight minutes later.
Neymar failed to connect properly with Mbappe’s reduction from the right, but the ball fell on Gueye and he shot high into the net.
After keeping Chelsea at bay in a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge this weekend, City were already continuing the game.
Guardiola had made two changes to his roster, with Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden having dropped out to make way for Sterling and Riyad Mahrez.
Sterling was involved when the visitors wasted a chance to comically equalize as the half hour approached.
The England striker’s header returned from the bar and brushed past Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was making his first Champions League appearance after being preferred over Keylor Navas in the Paris goal.
Silva found himself with an easy chance to convert the ball from just two yards but also hit the bar.
City managed to cut PSG’s top three off from the rest of their squad, but a flash point came as Kevin De Bruyne escaped with a yellow card after his crampons caught Gueye above his ankle , the referee Carlos del Cerro Grande surprisingly enough not to review the footage.
Despite this moment late in the first half, this heavyweight showdown between the finalists of the past two seasons often lacked the intensity that certainly would have been there in a knockout game.
Donnarumma saved De Bruyne well in the second half. Messi was largely a peripheral figure until he spoke of his brilliant moment to kill City.