Lionel Messi’s home debut for Paris Saint-Germain ended in victory, the Ligue 1 leaders rallying for a 2-1 win over Lyon thanks to Neymar’s penalty and a late goal from Mauro Icardi.
Lyon took the lead nine minutes after the break when Karl Toko Ekambi’s teasing cross was met by a first-time finish from Lucas Paqueta.
PSG got themselves back on level terms with a 66th-minute penalty, Neymar converting from the spot after he was deemed to have been fouled in the box by Malo Gusto.
Substitute Icardi then popped up in added time at Parc des Princes on Sunday to secure the points for the home side with a brilliant header from Kylian Mbappe’s cross.
In a fervent atmosphere generated by the PSG supporters – the air thick with smoke from pyrotechnics prior to kick-off – Messi’s early touches were roared by the home fans.
His first real chance came with an angled run into the area when unchecked and he was picked out by Ander Herrera, but Jason Denayer was able to get in a vital block.
PSG needed a goal-line header from Herrera moments later to keep out a fierce drive from Gusto as Lyon threatened at the other end.
Messi had his head in his hands just after the half-hour mark when he latched on to a backheel from Neymar inside the box, only for goalkeeper Anthony Lopes to save his clipped effort with his legs.
The Argentina international then struck the corner of the crossbar with a curling free-kick shortly afterwards as Lopes stood on his line motionless.
However, it was Lyon who went ahead early in the second half when Paqueta found space between Nuno Mendes and Marquinhos to crisply strike the ball beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Neymar went down after he tussled with Gusto inside the area and then confidently sent Lopes the wrong way from the resulting penalty kick to level the score.
Messi saw an angled drive whistle just past the post before being replaced by Achraf Hakimi with 14 minutes left, but it was another sub in Icardi who made the biggest impact, nodding in during the dying moments.
Hugs all around after a big win pic.twitter.com/eneleofALT
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 19, 2021
What does it mean? PSG stay flawless… but only just
The stellar trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe were expected to provide a glut of goals but while Lyon’s defence largely stood firm, the Ligue 1 title favourites still got the job done.
PSG now have six wins out of six in the competition this season and are already five points clear of second-placed Marseille at the top of the table. Mauricio Pochettino’s side may have slipped up with a surprising draw against Club Brugge in the Champions League in midweek, but this was a dramatic return to winning ways.
Mbappe provides magic moment
For all the hype around Messi, the key moment came from a player who almost left PSG in the previous transfer window. Mbappe delivered an inch-perfect cross for Icardi to score and the France international has now been involved in 150 goals in Ligue 1 since his first appearance in December 2015 (111 goals, 39 assists), at least 35 more than any other player over the period.
Bad mistake wounds Lyon
Neymar’s penalty allowed PSG to get back into the game and it was a clumsy piece of defending from Gusto, who wrestled the Brazilian to the floor. The Lyon full-back, who made one block, gave away five fouls in the match but that was the most decisive.
Key Opta facts
– PSG have won their first six Ligue 1 games of a season for the third time after 2017-18 and 2018-19. In the 21st century, only Marseille did that (in 2012-13) among all other top-flight sides.
– Already beaten by Angers in August, Lyon have lost two of their past three away games in Ligue 1 (W1) after going unbeaten in their previous 17.
– In 2021, Lucas Paqueta has been involved in 16 goals in Ligue 1 (11 goals, 5 assists), at least seven more than any other Lyon player over the period.
– Neymar has scored 71 per cent of his Ligue 1 goals in 2021 from the spot. Since his first season with PSG in 2017-18, this is the sixth time that the Brazilian has won and scored a penalty in the same league fixture.
– Messi was involved in six shots (4 attempts, 2 chances created). Only Mbappe against Clermont (7) has done better in a league game so far this season for PSG.
PSG are in Ligue 1 action again on Wednesday when they travel to Metz while Lyon host Troyes at the same time.
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