Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain rounded out their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 thumping of Club Brugge on Tuesday.
Mbappe scored twice in the first seven minutes, the second-fastest double at the start of a game in Champions League history, before setting up Messi to make it 3-0 at half-time.
Mats Rits got one back for the Belgians in the second half but Messi then netted a penalty to make it 4-1 and give PSG a welcome confidence boost in an underwhelming European campaign to date.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side knew before this game that they were heading through to the last 16 in second place in Group A behind Manchester City after losing 2-1 in England last month.
That means a theoretically harder tie against a group winner awaits them in next Monday’s draw, with Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Manchester United already potential opponents.
However, with Mbappe on this kind of form and Messi saving his best for Europe, there is still plenty of reason for optimism for Pochettino, who should also have Neymar back from his latest ankle injury by the time the knockout phase begins in February.
Mbappe needed just 73 seconds to open the scoring, following up to finish low into the far corner after Simon Mignolet had saved from Nuno Mendes.
– Mbappe in a hurry –
The France World Cup-winning forward netted again in the seventh minute, showing great technique to volley in from Angel Di Maria’s assist for his 11th goal this season.
The only player to score two quicker goals at the start of a Champions League match is Rodrygo, for Real Madrid against Galatasaray in 2019.
Mbappe, who doesn’t turn 23 until later this month, is a player in a hurry and he is already onto 30 Champions League goals in his career — at the same age Messi had 25 and Cristiano Ronaldo, now the competition’s all-time top scorer, had eight.
It was a stunning burst of pace from Mbappe on the left that led to PSG’s third goal in the 38th minute as he picked out Messi in the middle and the Argentinian advanced to the edge of the box before scoring with a trademark left-foot finish into the corner.
The visitors pulled one back midway through the second half as Noa Lang set up Rits to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
However, with RB Leipzig beating Manchester City 2-1 in the other Group A game, Club Brugge were condemned to finishing bottom and missing out on a consolation Europa League spot.
Messi then made it 4-1 for the Ligue 1 leaders in the 76th minute, converting a penalty he had won himself.
While the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has managed just one Ligue 1 goal in nine appearances since moving to France in August, he now has five in five Champions League appearances for PSG.
Messi moves onto 125 career goals in the Champions League, a tally bettered only by his old rival Ronaldo, who has 140.
Lionel Messi showed off his latest Ballon d’Or to Paris Saint-Germain supporters on Wednesday but the Argentinian had a quiet night as the Ligue 1 leaders were held to a 0-0 draw by Nice at the Parc des Princes.
The 34-year-old had been a pre-match doubt having reportedly picked up a stomach bug after going out to celebrate being named the best player in the world for the seventh time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday.
However, he started against Nice in a PSG side missing Neymar, who is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks with an ankle injury, the latest setback in the Brazilian’s time in the French capital.
Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe came closest to finding the net after the break for PSG, who had a huge let-off as Kasper Dolberg hit the post for Nice in the second half when it seemed easier to score.
“We created chances and I thought we deserved the three points,” insisted PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.
“We are improving little by little. We are top of Ligue 1 and through in the Champions League.”
Messi has still managed just one Ligue 1 goal since moving to Paris in August from Barcelona, although he has also netted three times in the Champions League.
Gianluigi Donnarumma also showed off an award pre-match, the Italian displaying the Yashin Trophy he won at the Ballon d’Or gala for being the best goalkeeper of a year in which he starred in his country’s Euro 2020 victory.
He did not have too much to do against a Nice team that defended superbly, although he did make one crucial stop from an Andy Delort header just after the half-hour mark.
“We were very, very well disciplined and I thought the draw was the right result,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier, who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season at PSG’s expense.
France’s Moto GP world champion Fabio Quartararo, who was born in Nice, appeared on the pitch before the match, taking the ceremonial kick-off before shaking hands with Messi and then embracing Mbappe.
– Marseille second –
Despite the draw, Pochettino’s PSG side are 12 points clear at the top of the French table from Marseille, who climbed up to second with a 1-0 win at 10-man Nantes as Brazilian midfielder Gerson got their goal with a brilliant finish on the turn on the half-hour mark.
Marseille, who still have a game in hand following the abandonment of their recent match at Lyon, move above Rennes after the Brittany side went down 2-1 at home to defending champions Lille, Renato Sanches scoring what proved to be the winner.
Nice slip to fourth in the table, while fifth-placed Lens drew 2-2 at Clermont.
The big winners of the evening were Strasbourg, who crushed struggling Bordeaux 5-2 and sit sixth in the table, just above Monaco, 3-1 winners at Angers.
Meanwhile, Lyon are languishing in mid-table after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Reims, with Hugo Ekitike scoring an injury-time winner for the away side following a mistake by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Lyon were forced to host the match behind closed doors as a punishment for the incidents in their last home game when Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was struck on the head by a bottle of water thrown from the crowd.
Neymar set up Angel Di Maria to score an 88th-minute winner as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind once again, this time to beat reigning French champions Lille 2-1 on Friday.
With Kylian Mbappe missing and Lionel Messi taken off at half-time, PSG needed captain Marquinhos to equalise in the 74th minute after Jonathan David had given the away side a first-half lead at the Parc des Princes.
Di Maria had set up the equaliser and he then arrived to fire low into the net from Neymar’s lay-off and secure a win that allows PSG to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to a massive 10 points over second-placed Lens before the rest of the weekend’s games.
Nevertheless this was another in a long line of disjointed displays from Mauricio Pochettino’s team and the coach was again left with questions to answer.
It was the third time in four home league games that PSG have come from behind to score a late winning goal, and here it came against a Lille side who are in mid-table after a poor start to their title defence.
The absence of top-scorer Mbappe due to illness did not help, nor did that of injured playmaker Marco Verratti.
“It is not by chance that the team responded the way they did. It shows the mentality and the character that they have,” Pochettino insisted.
“We want to win in the best possible manner, and by the biggest margin. The truth is that it’s often a struggle but it’s not by chance that we have won 10 league games out of 12.”
Messi’s goal drought
Messi was taken off at the interval and is still without a goal after five appearances in Ligue 1. That record is surely not what anyone expected from him when he arrived in August.
Perhaps he eventually will start scoring for fun in France, but he will go into November still looking to break his duck.
To be fair Messi has been making an impact in the Champions League, with three goals in three appearances in Europe.
His premature substitution here was a precautionary measure ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with RB Leipzig in Germany -– the Argentinian had been struggling with a minor injury during the week.
“We think he will be available for the match against Leipzig,” Pochettino told broadcaster Amazon Prime.
Neymar’s form has also been a source of concern, and the Brazilian still has just one goal to his name this season, and that from a penalty.
Here the world’s most expensive player sometimes cut a frustrated figure and talked his way into a late booking, but that was before he teed up Di Maria for the winner.
Earlier Lille were rewarded for a fine first-half showing with the opening goal just after the half-hour mark.
Burak Yilmaz, who had come close to scoring in the first minute, got to the byline and cut the ball back for Canada striker David to turn it into the net from close range.
Yilmaz was then denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma early in the second half but PSG pushed in search of an equaliser and eventually got it as Di Maria’s chipped ball from the byline was turned in by Marquinhos.
Mauro Icardi, who had replaced Messi at the break, missed a great chance to win it for the home side before Di Maria struck.
Second-placed Lens are in action on Saturday away to Lyon.
Lionel Messi, Neymar and a host of other South American stars are missing for Paris Saint-Germain this weekend but Kylian Mbappe will take centre stage after starring for France in their successful UEFA Nations League campaign.
Messi, along with Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, is with Argentina for their 2022 World Cup qualifier against Peru which was not due to kick off until early on Friday morning, French time.
Neymar and Marquinhos have been with Brazil, due to play Uruguay in a qualifier at the same time.
A third round of South American World Cup qualifiers in quick succession, so close to the weekend, has caused problems for clubs in Europe, where so many leading players are based.
PSG are one of many forced to prepare for matches this weekend without their South American stars, who will not be able to return in time.
“The different federations and FIFA all need to come together so that this type of situation doesn’t happen again,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino when asked about the manic schedule facing his players.
However, he added: “I am not looking for excuses. We have a big squad and it gives a chance to other players.”
Mbappe is available and on a high after scoring two goals and setting up two more as France won the Nations League in Italy.
Mbappe, who scored in the 2018 World Cup final as a teenager, got the decisive goal in last weekend’s final against Spain in Milan.
The 22-year-old’s future remains a subject of much debate with his contract up at the end of this season and Real Madrid waiting in the wings.
Lionel Messi scored his first goal in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt as they beat visiting Manchester City 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
After Idrissa Gueye put the hosts ahead in the eighth minute, PSG withstood ferocious City pressure before Messi sealed the victory, firing high into the net from a Kylian Mbappe lay-off to score in his fourth appearance for the club since signing from Barcelona last month.
Lionel Messi will again be sidelined for Paris Saint-Germain for Saturday’s game against Montpellier as he continues to nurse a knee injury, his club said.
PSG said Messi had started running again and that a new update would come on Sunday, raising hope that he will be able to return for the Champions League clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Tuesday.
“Hopefully everything will be ok and he will be back with us,” coach Mauricio Pochettino said at a press conference.
“We hope he can be there. We need to be cautious and see how things evolve in the coming days.”
Messi was taken off in the 76th minute of last weekend’s 2-1 win over Lyon in Ligue 1.
It only emerged later that he was suffering from a knock to a knee and he played no part in Wednesday’s 2-1 league win at Metz.
Messi has made just three appearances for his new club since arriving from Barcelona in early August, and has completed 90 minutes just once, at Club Brugge in the Champions League.
PSG are looking to make it eight wins out of eight in Ligue 1 this season when they play Montpellier, with Pochettino insisting that is his focus, not the rematch with a City side who knocked them out of the Champions League in the semi-finals last season.
“The important thing is the Montpellier game, trying to win and improve in the aspects we need to improve. Manchester City doesn’t influence it,” said the Argentine.
“We want to keep our run of results going, although of course it can help us prepare for the game on Tuesday.”
Marco Verratti and Sergio Ramos, the close-season signing from Real Madrid, are also still on the sidelines.
Lionel Messi will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s game away to Metz on Wednesday due to a knee injury which coach Mauricio Pochettino has said was the real reason behind his surprise decision to take the six-time Ballon d’Or winner off against Lyon at the weekend.
The Argentine star underwent an MRI on Tuesday after taking a knock to his left knee during Sunday’s 2-1 win. Results showed signs of bone bruising, the club said in a statement.
Messi was replaced by Achraf Hakimi, a full-back, after 76 minutes against Lyon, on his first home appearance as a PSG player since arriving from Barcelona.
The 34-year-old appeared to reject Pochettino’s hand as he walked past his coach towards the Paris bench but the former Tottenham Hotspur boss later defended his decision to take Messi off without mentioning the injury.
On Tuesday he admitted that Messi’s fitness was the reason he made the change with the scores level at the time.
“On the touchline we are always observing the players, seeing what is happening during the match, and we saw that Leo was looking at his knee,” Pochettino told reporters.
“We are pleased with the way he played. He played very well in the first half, and the only thing missing was a goal.
“He played for 76 minutes and with all the information we had we decided to take him off,” added Pochettino, who said he accepted that substituting a player of Messi’s status might surprise observers.
“Of course I understand the situation and I accept it as it is.
– ‘Best thing for him’ – “It is not a surprise for me, but the priority is always the well-being of the player and in this case we thought it was the best thing for him to take him off.
“All great champions always want to be on the pitch and that is understandable.”
Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time headed goal secured victory for PSG against Lyon, leaving them with six wins out of six in Ligue 1 this season and already five points clear of second-placed Marseille, albeit having played a game more.
They will be expected to keep their run going away to a Metz side who are winless and prop up the division, although Pochettino may heavily rotate his squad.
PSG are at home to Montpellier at the weekend, when it remains to be seen if Messi will return. They then host Manchester City in the Champions League next Tuesday, September 28.
“We have a squad of 35 players. They all deserve to play but there are not enough places,” admitted Pochettino.
The Argentine manager has also come in for criticism for the way his all-star team played against Lyon and in last week’s 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in the Champions League.
Those were the first two matches in which Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had all played together, but Pochettino says he needs time to get his ideas across.
“In general, in the past, in normal times, you had six or seven weeks in pre-season, lots of friendly matches to work on things.
“Now we need to try things as we go along, during games. It is not a situation we like much but we have to get used to it.”
There is a full round of games in France on Wednesday with Marseille aiming to continue their unbeaten start away at Angers.
Having scored a hat-trick for Argentina in World Cup qualifying, Lionel Messi will have to wait for his home debut in France, possibly leaving Paris Saint-Germain without their star front three for Saturday’s Ligue 1 match against promoted side Clermont.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino will be deprived of the majority of his South American contingent after their countries played World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.
Messi notched all three goals as Argentina, who also included PSG’s Angel Di Maria in their lineup, beat Bolivia 3-0 barely 36 hours before the Parisians are due to kick off at the Parc des Princes.
The triple strike made Messi the top international goalscorer in South American football history with 79 goals, overtaking Pele.
Neymar will also be absent after scoring in Brazil’s 2-0 victory against Peru.
The third member of the attacking trio, Kylian Mbappe, is still an injury doubt after leaving the France camp with a calf injury he suffered in their first qualifier of the international break against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
All three are however expected to be ready in time for PSG’s Champions League opener at Club Brugge on Wednesday.
The 2020 Champions League runners-up will be judged this season on their performances in the European competition, which they have never won despite the substantial injection of funds from their Qatari owners.
Expectations are even higher than usual after a transfer window in which Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma all joined the club.
There could be a debut against Clermont for Portugal full-back Nuno Mendes, the lowest-profile of the summer arrivals.
But the 19-year-old impressed in Sporting Lisbon’s title-winning team last term and could prove a bargain after joining PSG on a season-long loan for a reported seven million euros ($8.3 million), with an option to buy for 40 million euros.
“It’s a moment of great pride for me to have signed here among all these great players,” Nuno Mendes, who has won eight international caps, told PSG’s website. “I think it’s every player’s dream to play alongside them.
“I think it’s important for me to stay calm, to do what I do best.”
PSG are stronger favourites to win Ligue 1 than ever before — although Lille wrested the title from them last season — and their expensively assembled team already sit top after four wins from as many matches.
– Suspension-hit Marseille visit Monaco – Marseille hit out at the French league (LFP) on Thursday, arguing that the punishment given to Nice for their fans’ behaviour during a suspended match between the two teams last month was too lenient.
Nice will have to play three games behind closed doors and had two points deducted, albeit one suspended, after fans invaded the Allianz Riviera pitch when Dimitri Payet threw a bottle which had been launched at him back into the crowd.
Payet has been given a one-match ban, with Alvaro Gonzalez handed a two-game suspension.
The match, which Nice led 1-0 with 15 minutes remaining, will be replayed.
“The club regrets that any invasion of the pitch affecting the safety and health of players is not sanctioned immediately and more firmly,” Marseille said in a statement.
Marseille, who now sit one point ahead of Nice with seven points from three games, face Monaco in the principality on Saturday.
Nice, backed by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, visit Nantes on Sunday.
Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri– The Switzerland forward could make his debut for Lyon on Sunday against Strasbourg after joining from Liverpool for an initial fee of six million euros.
Lyon will be hoping he can fill the boots of Memphis Depay after the Dutchman’s fine start to life with Barcelona.
The 29-year-old Shaqiri will be hoping to become a key player for Lyon, after often finding himself on the periphery at Anfield and during spells at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Key statsSix – Amount of teams still unbeaten in Ligue 1 this season. There are also six teams still winless.
Seven – Goals scored by Clermont in the first three Ligue 1 games in their history.
10 – Assists made by PSG’s new full-back Hakimi since the start of last season.
Fixtures (times GMT)Friday
Lorient v Lille (1900)
Paris Saint-Germain v Clermont (1500), Monaco v Marseille (1900)
Montpellier v Saint-Etienne (1100), Bordeaux v Lens, Brest v Angers, Metz v Troyes, Rennes v Reims (all 1300), Nantes v Nice (1500), Lyon v Strasbourg (1845)
Lionel Messi came on as a substitute to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut on Sunday but Kylian Mbappe stole the show by scoring both goals in a 2-0 win against Reims in Ligue 1.
Messi, wearing the number 30 jersey, came off the bench in the 66th minute to replace Neymar at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, where fans in the sell-out 21,000 crowd had earlier chanted his name as he emerged to warm up.
The Argentine had not played since arriving in Paris from Barcelona almost three weeks ago, his last appearance in any game dating back to the Copa America final on July 11, when he led his country to victory against Brazil.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will have to wait for his first goal with his new club, and his first start, which could come when PSG host Clermont in their next match on September 11.
After that, they will begin their Champions League campaign away to Club Brugge in Belgium.
The week leading up to this game had been dominated not by Messi but by talk of Mbappe’s future, with Real Madrid reportedly having two offers for the France World Cup-winning striker rejected.
The latest of these offers was understood to be worth 180 million euros ($212m), an astronomical amount for a player whose contract expires at the end of the season and who will be free to negotiate a deal with a new club in January without PSG being able to get a transfer fee.
That amount is also equal to what PSG paid Monaco in 2017 to sign Mbappe, who was clearly eager to go out on a high if this was to be his final appearance for the club.
With the transfer deadline looming on Tuesday, the 22-year-old did not appear remotely distracted by the talk of a move as he headed in a glorious Angel Di Maria cross in the 15th minute to put the away side in front.
Mbappe then scored his second of the night, and third of the season, just after the hour mark, finishing off an inviting low cross to the back post by Achraf Hakimi.
Reims were once France’s pre-eminent club, twice reaching the European Cup final in 1956 and 1959, but it is a long time since the footballing spotlight has been on the city, which lies 150 kilometres north-east of Paris in the Champagne region, to such an extent.
The home side, whose coach Oscar Garcia played for Barcelona in the 1990s, had what they thought was an equalising goal by Zimbabwe’s Marshall Munetsi early in the second half disallowed for offside.
They put up a good fight but the chances of any team in France stopping PSG — even if Mbappe departs — are slim.
Neymar started, making his first appearance of the season, while Di Maria also played in an all-star attack in Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
The Qatar-owned club are the only team in Ligue 1 with the maximum 12 points after four games and they lie two points clear of surprise package Angers, who had earlier beaten Rennes 2-0.
Also on Sunday, defending champions Lille recorded their first victory of the Ligue 1 campaign as Yusuf Yazici and Canada’s Jonathan David scored in a 2-1 win over 10-man Montpellier.
Monaco bounced back from their elimination from the Champions League in the play-off round in midweek to win 2-1 at Troyes, Sofiane Diop’s brace securing their first victory of the Ligue 1 season.
Kylian Mbappe, coveted by Real Madrid, should be in the Paris Saint-Germain squad at Reims, along with Lionel Messi, who could make his debut, and Neymar, coach Mauricio Pochettino said on Saturday.
“We have not yet announced the squad,” the coach told his press conference ahead of Sunday evening’s Ligue 1 match, adding that all the ‘magic trio’ “will certainly be among those named, we will see if they can play from the start of the match.”
Pochettino said Mbappe had not told him he wanted to leave PSG for Real Madrid.