Lionel Messi scored a gorgeous first goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the French side gained a measure of revenge for their 2020-21 Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City with a 2-0 win to get off the mark in Group A.
Messi’s start to life at PSG had been somewhat muted but he came to life late in the day to seal a hard-fought victory at the Parc des Princes, an important result after a disappointing draw with Club Brugge on matchday one.
PSG made a wonderful start and were quickly in front thanks to Idrissa Gueye, but City had opportunities to pull level, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both hitting the crossbar in quick succession.
The visitors were especially dominant in the second period, but they struggled to craft clear-cut chances as PSG picked them off on the break, Messi netting against his former boss Pep Guardiola in the Champions League for a record-extending seventh time.
Gueye may not be renowned for his goalscoring prowess but his eighth-minute finish was his fourth in six this season and a strike of great precision, smashing into the top-right corner when Neymar could not control Kylian Mbappe’s cut-back.
The same quality was not exhibited at the other end, though, as Sterling saw his header come back off the bar and Silva inexplicably hit it as well on the rebound.
Kevin De Bruyne escaped a red card for catching Gueye late in the half and he almost set up the equaliser soon after, his corner finding Ruben Dias, whose header tested Gianluigi Donnarumma.
PSG’s solid defensive work ensured big chances were otherwise a rare commodity for City, and Messi put the game beyond them 16 minutes from time.
He surged in from the right, played a one-two with Mbappe on the edge of the box and then caressed a first-time finish into the top-right corner.
What does it mean? Messi has arrived
His Copa America duties meant his arrival at PSG was delayed, then there was another international break and that was followed by a minor knee injury. Messi’s rather slow start at PSG is perfectly understandable.
Again, in this match he appeared a little rusty at times, with plenty of heavy touches in the first half, but the one that really mattered came in the second period, as he announced himself in style.
Defensive work shows there’s more to PSG than just the superstars
While Messi will dominate the headlines, PSG’s defence more than earned a mention here. Donnarumma was crucially dependable with his seven saves, Marquinhos’ match-high 13 clearances showed just how effective he was, and Achraf Hakimi enjoyed a solid outing against Jack Grealish.
Frustration for Grealish
The pre-season arrival from Aston Villa has enjoyed a seamless transition into the side at City, but this was not so smooth. He was by no means bad, with his two key passes only bettered by De Bruyne, but little went his way in terms of refereeing decisions and his inability to get the better of Hakimi ultimately ensured he was withdrawn with 22 minutes left.
Key Opta Facts
– Paris Saint-Germain ended a run of four consecutive Champions League matches without a win (D1 L3), enjoying their first victory since beating Bayern Munich 3-2 in April.
– Manchester City suffered their first Champions League group stage defeat since September 2018, when they lost 2-1 to Lyon; they had been unbeaten in 18 such games since then.
– Lionel Messi scored the 673rd goal of his club career and his first for PSG, ending his three-game goal drought for his new club.
– Messi has scored 27 Champions League goals against English clubs, 15 more than any other player; only Cristiano Ronaldo against German teams (28) has scored more goals against opponents of a specific nation in Champions League history.
Another big match is on the horizon for City as they go to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday. PSG have a Ligue 1 trip to Rennes the same day.
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