Messi Misses Penalty But Argentina Advance At World Cup

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi leads the ball past Poland’s players during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Poland and Argentina at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 30, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi had a penalty saved but Argentina still advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup as Group C winners after a 2-0 victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Poland also went through as runners-up although a 2-1 win for Mexico over Saudi Arabia in the group’s other game meant Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side advanced only on goal difference.

Alexis Mac Allister’s 46th-minute goal settled Argentina’s nerves after a tense first half, before Julian Alvarez doubled their lead just over 20 minutes later.

Argentina had been unable to find a way past Wojciech Szczesny in an opening 45 minutes in which the Poland goalkeeper saved his second penalty of the tournament.

Szczesny was adjudged to have fouled Messi while stretching to reach a cross, but he dived to his left to beat away the resulting spot-kick.

It was the 31st penalty Messi had failed to convert in his career.

Poland offered little attacking threat, with star striker Robert Lewandowski virtually anonymous throughout.

Instead it was left to Szczesny to take centre stage for the Poles, denying Messi with two crucial early stops.

First Messi wriggled clear of a pack of defenders before producing a shot that flew straight at the keeper.

Then he found space to charge into the Polish box down the left, forcing Szczesny to make a save at his near post.

Argentina continued to create the better chances in the first half and Marcos Acuna flashed a shot wide after Alvarez had also gone close to breaking the deadlock.

Szczesny had to scramble to stop Angel di Maria scoring direct from a corner, before the goalkeeper was again called into action to deny Alvarez.

– Penalty save –
Szczesny outdid himself when he dived to his left to stop Messi’s penalty in the 39th minute.

He still had more to do before the half-time whistle, punching away a shot from Alvarez before saving the follow-up from Rodrigo de Paul.

There was nothing he could do when Mac Allister broke the deadlock less than a minute after the interval.

Nahuel Molina charged down the right, then cut the ball back for Mac Allister to drill just beyond Szczesny’s reach.

The goal forced Poland to show some belated attacking ambition and Kamil Glik headed just wide from a free-kick almost immediately after the restart.

Argentina continued to go in search of more goals and Alvarez scored their second after combining well with Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez, making his first start for Argentina, picked out his team-mate, who held off a defender before lashing the ball past Szczesny.

Poland were still walking a tightrope with yellow cards potentially crucial to their chances of reaching the last 16.

Grzegorz Krychowiak went into the book in the 83rd minute but a late goal for Saudi Arabia against Mexico saw the Poles safely through on goal difference.

AFP

Messi Inspires Argentina To Crucial Victory Over Mexico

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Argentina against Mexico. Twitter/FIFA WORLD CUP

 

Lionel Messi helped keep Argentina’s World Cup bid alive with the first goal in a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Saturday.

Defeat to outsiders Saudi Arabia in their opening Group G match in Qatar had left Argentina on the brink, knowing another loss would spell the end of their tournament chances.

But the Albiceleste just edged a disjointed and tetchy affair against their fellow Latin Americans at the Lusail stadium in Doha.

And who else but the mercurial Messi should be the hero, firing home a low shot from 20 yards on 64 minutes, before Enzo Fernandez added a thunderbolt second goal for Argentina three minutes from time.

“The first game cost us,” said Messi. “We knew that we had to win today, that another World Cup was starting for us and we knew how to do it.

“It was a tough game to pick ourselves up for because Mexico play well.

“The played the first half with intensity but the second half we relaxed and became ourselves again.”

Messi’s goal meant he tied the late Diego Maradona on eight goals and 21 appearances at the World Cup for Argentina.

READ ALSO: Mbappe’s Double Sends France To Round Of 16

It came a day after Argentines marked the second anniversary of Maradona’s death.

The goals were two rare moments of quality in an often poor and tense encounter where the occasion seemed to get to everyone, except seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.

But Argentina still need to win their final group match against Poland to guarantee a place in the knock-out stages.

“We cannot let up now. Every game is a final now, we cannot make any mistakes,” said Messi.

AFP

World Cup Defeat To Saudi Arabia A ‘Very Heavy Blow’ – Messi

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi said Argentina’s shock loss to Saudi Arabia was a “very heavy blow” but vowed the South American champions would bounce back from the defeat.

“It’s a very heavy blow, a defeat that hurts, but we must continue to have confidence in ourselves,” Messi said after Argentina crashed to a stunning 2-1 loss in Group C.

“This group is not going to give up. We will try to beat Mexico,” he added.

Messi gave Argentina a 10th-minute lead from the penalty spot on Tuesday at the Lusail stadium but second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari helped the Saudis pull off one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history.

It could have been so different but for three tight offside calls in the first half that went against Argentina, denying them three potential goals.

In the second half, coach Lionel Scaloni’s men failed to exploit the Saudis’ high defensive line.

“We know that Saudi Arabia is a team with good players, who move the ball around well and play a high line,” said Messi.

“We worked on that but we rushed it a bit. At 2-1 we got disorganised, we lost our performance level and started desperately putting the ball into the middle.”

Messi insisted that the team accepted their defeat and said the players were determined to put things right for the next game.

READ ALSO: Saudi Arabia Stun Argentina After Coming From Behind To Win 2-1

“There are no excuses, we’re going to be more united than ever before,” he said.

“This group is strong and has shown it before. We had not been in this situation for a long time. Now we must show that this is a true group.”

The Albiceleste have two Group C games remaining — against Mexico on Saturday and then Poland the following Wednesday — to try to salvage their hopes of claiming a third world title.

“This is the time to stick together, to turn the page and not think about what happened,” said Messi.

“We always said we were going to (try to) win every game and now more than ever.”

Playing in his fifth and probably final World Cup, Messi has the weight of an entire nation’s expectations on his shoulders.

One of the greatest players of all time, this may be his last chance to lift football’s greatest prize, which his predecessor as Argentina’s idol Diego Maradona did in 1986.

“We have to go back to the basics of who we are. We have to think about what’s coming next,” said the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

AFP

World Cup 2022: Top Photos From Day 3

Argentina vs Saudi Arabia

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi and Saudi Arabia’s midfielder #07 Salman Al-Faraj pose with the referees ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi takes a penalty to score his team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Argentina’s goalkeeper #23 Emiliano Martinez fails to stop Saudi Arabia’s forward #11 Saleh Al-Shehri first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s midfielder #10 Salem Al-Dawsari (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)

 

Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni gestures during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s defender #04 Abdulelah Alamri (L) clears the ball off the line during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s defender #13 Yasser Al-Shahrani collides with Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper #21 Mohammed Al-Owais during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s defender #13 Yasser Al-Shahrani receives medical attention after a collision during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic shows the yellow card to Saudi Arabia’s midfielder #10 Salem Al-Dawsari during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s forward #09 Firas Al-Buraikan celebrates as Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi leaves the pitch during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia’s midfielder #07 Salman Al-Faraj and Saudi Arabia’s midfielder #10 Salem Al-Dawsari hug as they celebrate the team’s victory during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Denmark vs Tunisia

Fireworks are set off prior to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

 

Denmark’s midfielder #11 Andreas Skov Olsen (2R) shoots during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

 

Denmark’s goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (R) gets to the ball ahead of Tunisia’s forward Anis Ben Slimane and Denmark’s defender Andreas Christensen during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

 

Tunisia’s defender #04 Yassine Meriah (3rd from top) heads the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

 

Denmark’s goalkeeper #01 Kasper Schmeichel (C) spreads himself to save a shot from Tunisia’s forward #09 Issam Jebali (2nd R) during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

 

Tunisia’s forward #09 Issam Jebali (L) reacts to a missed chance during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

 

Mexican referee Cesar Ramos shows a yellow card to Denmark’s midfielder #07 Mathias Jensen during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

 

Denmark’s forward #21 Andreas Cornelius (L) misses a chance to score during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Denmark and Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

 

Mexico vs Poland

Mexico players and Poland players listen to national anthem ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Poland’s goalkeeper #01 Wojciech Szczesny (in yellow) watches the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)

 

Poland’s goalkeeper #01 Wojciech Szczesny dives fot he ball past Mexico’s forward #20 Henry Martin during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Poland’s defender #15 Kamil Glik (C) heads the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

Poland’s defender #15 Kamil Glik (C) jumps for the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP)

 

France vs Australia

France’s supporters celebrate at the end of the match during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

France’s forward #09 Olivier Giroud celebrates with teammates after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

France’s forward #10 Kylian Mbappe celebrates after France’s forward #09 Olivier Giroud scored France’s fourth goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

France’s players celebrate scoring their team’s fourth goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Australia’s goalkeeper #01 Mathew Ryan (2nd R) reacts while conceding a goal by France’s forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (2nd L) during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by Chandan Khanna / AFP)

Federer Retirement: Who’s Saying What

(FILES) This file combination of photo created on July 16, 2017 shows Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding up the Wimbledon Championships trophy after winning each of his eight men’s singles titles at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, in (top L-R) 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, (bottom L-R) 2007, 2009, 2012 and July 16, 2017. (Photo by – / AFP) 

 

 

Roger Federer’s decision to retire provoked an emotional reaction from current and former tennis players as well as stars in other sports.

AFP Sport looks at some of the tributes to the 20-time Grand Slam champion:

Old rivals and friends

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival, I wish this day would never have come. It’s been a pleasure but also an honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.”

— Rafael Nadal on Twitter.

“I LOVE YOU, Roger. Thank you for everything you’ve done in tennis and with myself. Tennis world will never be the same without you.”

– Juan Marin del Potro, who retired earlier this year.

“Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honour to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don’t be a stranger… Also, seems like a good time to start training for Wimby.”

– Andy Roddick, who lost to Federer in three finals at Wimbledon and one at the US Open.

“Absolute living legend. Thanks for all the countless memories.”

– John Isner.

The young(er) guns

“Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration! Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next!”

– World number one Carlos Alcaraz.

“A role model for me and so many others!!… It’s been a privilege to share the court with you!!”

– Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

“Thank you for elevating the game in so many ways on and off the court. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me over the years. Thank you for being the best role model for so many. Thank you for everything.”

– American prodigy Coco Gauff.

The greats

“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest – perfectly done, just like your career. I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget. I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future. Welcome to the retirement club.”

– Serena Williams

“Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on.”

– Billie Jean King

“What a heartfelt message, full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!!”

– Martina Navratilova

“Thank you for everything Roger. See you soon. Rocket.”

– Rod Laver

The coaches

“The end of a magnificent era.”

– Judy Murray

“Rafael would not have been as strong without Roger Federer. He always had to raise his level… I feel very sad to see a sports icon, one of the most important players in tennis, announce his retirement.”

– Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and former coach, speaking on French radio.

The organisation

“Legend of the game.”

– Roland Garros, where Federer won the 2009 title.

“Where do we begin? It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many.”

– Wimbledon, where Federer is a men’s record eight-time champion.

“You changed the game, #RForever.”

– ATP Tour

“Roger Federer is a gentleman on and off the court –- and a true Olympic champion.”

– International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Greatness defined. The end of an era.”

– The WTA Tour, alongside a photo of Federer embracing Serena Williams on court.

Other sports

“A genius, unique in tennis history and a role model for any sportsman. I wish you the best in your new stage, we will miss seeing you on the court.”

– Lionel Messi.

“What a career. We fell in love with your brand of tennis. Slowly, your tennis became a habit. And habits never retire, they become a part of us.”

– Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

“It’s been one of the great pleasures in life to watch you play.”

– Former England football striker Gary Lineker.

Messi Left To Pick Up Pieces At PSG After Jeers And Champions League Failure

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi looks on prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

 

A season that started with such feverish excitement is turning out to be nothing short of a fiasco in Paris for Lionel Messi, who suffered the ignominy of being booed by his own supporters last weekend.

Unhappy Paris Saint-Germain fans targeted the Argentine as well as Neymar during the 3-0 win over Bordeaux that followed the club’s spectacular Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid.

“We understand their disappointment, their feeling of hatred,” admitted PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe.

Adored in Barcelona, from where he made a tearful exit last August, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner suddenly found himself in a position he had never previously experienced during his remarkable club career.

The 34-year-old still has 10 games left with PSG this season, including Sunday’s trip to Monaco, but he could be forgiven for wishing the campaign were already over.

In some respects it is, given PSG have again failed to win the Champions League.

When Messi was unveiled at the Parc des Princes at the start of the season he admitted winning another European Cup was his “dream” and said he felt he was in the “ideal place” to do it.

It was not to be, at least this season, and Messi will be 35 by the time the next campaign begins. Instead all he can look forward to for now is winning the Ligue 1 title.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team are currently 15 points clear of Marseille and Nice, and surely PSG cannot throw that advantage away.

In any case, reclaiming the domestic title will be a very hollow victory for a club who enjoy such an enormous financial advantage over their rivals — Messi’s salary alone is reported to be around 30 million euros ($33.4m) net in his first season in Paris.

The player who is arguably the best of all time has failed to come remotely close to the form he produced so regularly in Barcelona.

He has just seven goals in all competitions this season, only two of which have come in Ligue 1 — in contrast he scored at least 31 goals in each of his last 13 seasons at the Camp Nou.

A campaign that started late due to his lack of a pre-season was also interrupted in the middle when he tested positive for Covid-19 during a trip back to Argentina.

Messi has therefore missed significant chunks, and the flashes of his genius have been too fleeting.

There has already been speculation in France that he could seek a move away from Paris, but for now he must try to focus on what is left of the season and the remaining games alongside Kylian Mbappe before the France superstar’s expected departure for Real Madrid.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kicks the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

Player to watch: Jose FonteAt 38, the veteran Portuguese defender deserves to be singled out for praise. Despite his advancing years, he is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of every Ligue 1 game this season, 28 matches into the campaign.

Indeed Fonte — a standout in the Lille team that won the title last season — has played every minute of his club’s 39 matches in all competitions, including on their run to the Champions League last 16.

Key stats50 – Mauricio Pochettino is set for his 50th Ligue 1 game in charge of PSG.

7 – The number of points separating reigning champions Lille from the Champions League qualifying places. They were knocked out of this season’s Champions League in midweek by Chelsea.

6 – Six-time French champions Bordeaux have not won any of their last six games and prop up the table, five points away from outright safety.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Troyes (2000)

Saturday

Lens v Clermont (1600), Nantes v Lille (2000)

Sunday

Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain (1200), Angers v Brest, Bordeaux v Montpellier, Lorient v Strasbourg, Rennes v Metz (all 1400), Reims v Lyon (1605), Marseille v Nice (1945)

Fans Boo Messi And PSG Stars Despite Win Over Bordeaux

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain beat Ligue 1 strugglers Bordeaux 3-0 on Sunday amid incessant whistles directed at stars including Lionel Messi and Neymar from home fans furious at another European exit.

Amid a gloomy atmosphere in the French capital, only Kylian Mbappe, who scored both goals in the last-16 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, escaped the wrath of the fans.

On Sunday, Mbappe was again on target, scoring the opening goal after 24 minutes with Neymar and Leandro Paredes adding two more in the second half.

Read Also: Barcelona Hammer Real Madrid To Clinch Women’s League Title

The Parisians hold a 15-point lead on second-placed Nice and are on track to equal Saint-Etienne’s record of 10 French titles, but the frustration of their home fans spilled over.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi was booed as never before in his career, even in the rare bad times with Argentina, and whistled at every touch of the ball.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino said the players had greeted the hostility “with sadness”.

“No-one who loves PSG, its colours, and who feels the frustration of elimination, can experience it in any other way.

“Sadness. I think that’s the right word. The sadness of experiencing an afternoon like this here at the Parc des Princes.

“Messi and Neymar? We are all affected, we understand the disappointment and frustration, which we also share. But we are responsible. We only have to assume it as a team and we will be united until the end.”

Ligue 1 is Pochettino’s side’s only objective this season.

“We are satisfied with the performance of the team in difficult circumstances, the team responded, with a professional performance, with a 3-0,” added the Argentine.

Mbappe blasted in the first goal from Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass cross in a move also involving Messi. It was the World Cup winner’s 15th goal of the season in Ligue 1.

Neymar added a second seven minutes after the break with Messi again sending through for Achraf Hakimi who teed up the Brazilian to finish off.

Leandro Paredes got on the scoresheet for the first time this season after an hour blasting the ball into the top of the net.

Bordeaux have lost seven of their ten away games this season, and sit bottom of the table.

Lionel Messi Tests Positive For COVID-19

FILES) This file photo taken on December 7, 2021 shows Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021.  AFP

 

Lionel Messi has tested positive for Covid-19 and entered self-isolation, his club Paris Saint-Germain announced on Sunday.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was one of four PSG players to test positive for the virus ahead of a French Cup match against Vannes.

Messi tested positive while on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina.

“He is constantly in contact with our medical service. When he is negative, he will be able to return to France,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino told a press conference.

The Argentinian star has endured a difficult start to life in the French capital since an emotional exit from Barcelona last summer.

READ ALSO: Mbappe Not Affected By Uncertain Future, Says Pochettino

Messi has scored only one goal in 11 league appearances for PSG, although he has netted five times in the Champions League.

He will miss Monday’s cup tie and Pochettino said he did not know if he would also be sidelined for PSG’s first Ligue 1 match since the winter break, at Lyon next Sunday.

The other players to test positive were full-back Juan Bernat, back-up goalkeeper Sergio Rico and teenage midfielder Nathan Bitumazala.

“They are currently respecting isolation and are subject to the appropriate health protocols,” PSG said.

Pochettino added: “We have been living with the virus for almost two years, everyone knows what to do in order not to be infected. But we can still catch it, there are things we cannot control.”

Bernat tested positive after reporting for training.

“This is the risk with which we live, on a global scale,” said Pochettino. “In football, contact is inevitable, we share the dressing room.

“The risk of contamination is there, but we take all the necessary measures to try to prevent a player from infecting others.”

The number of Covid cases in France has topped 200,000 a day this week.

PSG also said that Neymar, who suffered an ankle injury in November, is continuing treatment in his native Brazil.

“He is still scheduled to return to training in about three weeks,” the club said.

AFP

Mbappe And Messi Double Up In PSG Victory

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

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.

Messi Shows Off Ballon d’Or To Supporters

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi presents his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

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.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi poses with his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

“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.

AFP

Messi Taken Off At Half-Time As PSG Narrowly Beat Lille

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) and Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar react during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and LOSC Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar react during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and LOSC Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 29, 2021.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

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.

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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.

Mbappe Takes Centre Stage For PSG In Absence Of Messi, Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the French L1 football match between Stade Brestois and Paris Saint-Germain at Francis-Le Ble Stadium in Brest on August 20, 2021. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

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.

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“The club will do everything to keep Kylian,” Pochettino told Spanish radio station Cope this week when inevitably pressed on the matter.

“As coach I would love him to stay here for many years to come.”

In Ligue 1 Mbappe has scored four goals this season with PSG already six points clear of Lens at the top of the table despite seeing their perfect start ended in a 2-0 defeat at Rennes two weeks ago.

After Friday’s game they play host to RB Leipzig in the Champions League in what will be their first European outing since beating Manchester City late last month.

Player to watch: Mohamed-Ali Cho

Cho was born in the Paris suburbs and spent time in PSG’s academy, so it will be a special occasion when he comes up against the capital side with Angers this weekend.

Still just 17, winger Cho is a prodigious talent who has already played in 30 top-flight games.

Cho actually spent much of his childhood in England and represented them as a youth international while on the books at Everton.

However, having signed professional terms with Angers, he has broken into the France Under-21 side at the start of this season and looks to have a very exciting future ahead of him.

Key stats

4 – Mbappe has gone four Ligue 1 games without scoring, his longest drought in France’s top flight since May 2018.

190 – The total number of minutes played in Ligue 1 by Messi since he joined PSG.

17 – The number of goals scored by Lille’s Jonathan David in Ligue 1 in 2021. He is fresh from scoring for Canada in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Panama on Wednesday.

Fixtures (kick-offs GMT)

Friday

Paris Saint-Germain v Angers (1900)

Saturday

Clermont v Lille (1500), Lyon v Monaco (1900)

Sunday

Troyes v Nice (1100), Bordeaux v Nantes, Brest v Reims, Metz v Rennes, Strasbourg v Saint-Etienne (all 1300), Montpellier v Lens (1500), Marseille v Lorient (1845)