Lionel Messi scores a goal only he can to sink Man City and finally announce himself at PSG

© Getty Images

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring PSG’s second goal

– Getty Images

A first, from a player with no equals.

Paris Saint-Germain had the moment they’d been waiting for, and one that Lionel Messi had been saving himself for.

For 73 minutes of this group game against Manchester City, the Argentine had been doing his usual of playing in a staccato manner, conserving his energy. It is all of course so he can convert into something wholly unusual, such as this astounding first goal for Paris Saint-Germain. Picking up the ball inside the City half, Messi suddenly accelerated forward and left two defenders in his slipstream. The ball was played to Neymar for the Brazilian to immediately flick it back, and set up Messi to send the ball soaring right into the top corner.
It was a moment of pure footballing beauty that made you momentarily forget some of the less pure elements of this contest. That is obviously kind of the point. It’s the best football that state money can buy.

It also puts PSG on top of the group after a 2-0 win, and suddenly leaves City with a little more to do in this group, given Club Brugge continue to impress.

Whether it is the best football on the continent is the biggest question of all, though.

Messi’s goal was really another piece of individual brilliance that settled a game of contrasts, despite their common ground as state projects.

Both of these clubs could do with a little of what the other has.

PSG have so much individual quality but are lacking in coherence. City have so much coherence but are suddenly looking like the lack absolute top quality, at least in contrast to this PSG attack.

Kevin De Bruyne did not look fully fit. Raheem Sterling did not look clinical. Jack Grealish did not yet look like he has adapted to the level.

That will of course bring up the recurring debate over whether City should have just signed a striker. Pep Guardiola is right that results will dictate the good or bad of the decision, but we won’t know either for certain until the end of the season.

Here, it did look like it may cost them against sides that have this kind of quality.

How they could have done with someone who does what Messi does to at least increase the pressure on a fairly erratic PSG defensive structure.

The opening goal reflected so many elements of the home side’s performance. For one, it was Mbappe and Messi linking up with each other most. The Argentine played Mbappe in for the young forward to exchange passes with Achraf Hakimi. It was so clean, and of such class. It still wasn’t completely fitting together, though, as Neymar failed to make a proper connection with Mbappe’s ball despite the goal gaping.

Idriss Gueye was nevertheless on hand to absolutely smash the ball into the roof of the net.

There was a neat bit of symbolism there, as Gueye makes such a difference for PSG, filling so many gaps.

The smoothness up front contrasts with haphazardness at the back, as so much of their defending seems to involve desperate stretches or last-ditch interventions. Gueye at least makes it look so much easier. That was particularly the case for one recovery when he just raced back to overtake Riyad Mahrez and take the ball off him.

He is one of the players who might just make this project actually work. It is still impossible not to notice the long stretches where the three stars are basically standing or strolling, as the rest of their team sprints around. It’s just the electricity when one of them gets on the ball that no doubt makes everyone feel this is well worth it. There were more than a few moments like that, as well as instances when PSG really indulged themselves. Neymar tried flicking the ball over Mahrez’s head by lifting it up between both ankles. Mbappe attempted an elaborate back heel to put him through.

You get none of that with Messi. He remains so minimalist, only taking the touches he needs to take.

That comes from literal common ground with Guardiola of course, and the systemic construction of City’s play was another contrast with PSG’s individual creativity.

There were extended passages when City were moving the ball around to move the home defence out of position, but not that many real moments of danger. Bernardo Silva somehow missed the target but was at least offside, Ruben Dias forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into a good save from a corner.

Sterling was meanwhile having one of those matches where there was everything to his game but end product.

The chance at the start of the second half should really have been finished.

Grealish was meanwhile disappointing, some way off the standard of the attackers at the other end.

This was only a group game, that shouldn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things, but it was a pointer to the performance level that is going to be required when it really matters.

Against all that, PSG – and particularly that trio – were just waiting for moments to pounce; to show what this level of attacking play is really about.

Messi did so much more than that, of course. He did something else only he can.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a ... Read more »

Trump-endorsed Max Miller's congressional campaign is largely self-funded, campaign finance reports show

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Former White House aide Max Miller emailed his supporters last week to boast that his congressional campaign, which former President Donald Trump endorsed before incumbent Anthony ... Read more »

Watchdog group files complaint against Psaki for promoting McAuliffe

A government watchdog group filed a complaint against White House Press secretary Jen Psaki, accusing her of violating the Hatch Act by appearing to endorse a candidate in Virginia’s governor ... Read more »

Clean energy program will likely be cut from budget bill

The Clean Electricity Performance Program, the cornerstone climate policy in Democrats’ massive social safety net package, will likely be dropped from the final budget deal after pushback from Sen. Joe ... Read more »

UK police rule MP David Amess murder a 'terrorist incident'

© Provided by dw.com Amess was a champion of animal welfare during his time in Parliament, having opposed practices such as fox hunting UK Member of Parliament David Amess was ... Read more »

Beasley again the top fundraiser in NC US Senate race

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – In this Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, file photo, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pat McCrory poses for a photo in Mount Airy, N.C. North ... Read more »

Health ministry reports 89 new Covid-19 deaths

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today PETALING JAYA: The health ministry reported 89 Covid-19 deaths yesterday, according to its GitHub database. Of the total, 19 were classified as brought-in-dead. The ... Read more »

Police: Connecticut man charged with murder worked at Fryeburg Fair with stabbing victim

Oct. 15—The Connecticut man charged with stabbing a fellow worker to death early Wednesday morning at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds allegedly was fighting with the victim after a night of drinking ... Read more »

Man wounded in Portland police shooting charged

Oct. 15—A New York City man wounded in a police shooting last weekend in Portland has been charged. Edward C. Hyman, 42, was charged Tuesday with criminal threatening and failure ... Read more »

Adele: Fans react to Easy On Me - singer's first new song since 2015

Fans around the world had been waiting since 2015 to hear new music from Adele and her new single Easy On Me was finally released overnight, causing a social media ... Read more »

Warriors new plan – chasing wins – might just pay off

© Provided by NBC Sports Last season, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said they weren’t chasing wins. Golden State finished eighth in the West, lost a nail-biter on the road to ... Read more »

Hong Kong restaurant scene back to (almost) full glory, but owners worry over new pressures

Eighteen months ago in April 2020, during Hong Kong’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, I put a temporary hiatus on restaurant reviews. The food and beverage scene – normally ... Read more »

How to watch Tennessee vs. Ole Miss: Live stream, TV channel, start time for Saturday's NCAA Football game

© Provided by CBS Sports Sep 29, 2018; Athens, GA, USA; A Tennessee Volunteers cheerleader on the sidelines during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at ... Read more »

Boris Johnson gives adorable lookalike son Wilfred a ride on his shoulders

BORIS Johnson gives son Wilfred a ride on his shoulders as the tot’s grandad Stanley lends a steadying hand from behind. The PM, who was enjoying a glass of red ... Read more »

Lefty NY pol ripped for saying hospitals ‘allegedly saving lives' amid COVID-19

Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) insists that hospitals “make money out of allegedly saving lives,” as corporations. Hans Pennink A progressive New York lawmaker said Friday that local hospitals are “allegedly ... Read more »

Chandigarh: Coaching institute told to refund fee of student who quit midway

© Provided by Hindustan Times The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, said a student or a trainee may leave midstream if he/she finds the service deficient, substandard and non-yielding. ... Read more »

GMADA e-auction: Only 9 of 61 properties in Mohali find takers

© Provided by Hindustan Times A 5-acre commercial site in Aerocity proved to be the star property for GMADA, as it went for ₹192 crore against a reserve price of ... Read more »

Chandigarh: Woman buying vegetables falls prey to snatchers

© Provided by Hindustan Times The 55-year-old woman lost her chain to snatchers while buying vegetables near her housing society. (HT Photo) Two motorcycle-borne youths snatched the gold chain of a ... Read more »

12 held for gambling in Ambala, r₹r2.4 lakh recovered

© Provided by Hindustan Times The Ambala police teams raided several locations in the district on Thursday night and lodged nine cases at various police stations. (AFP) The Ambala police ... Read more »

Passenger in pickup seriously injured after truck slams into SUV, home in Derry

Oct. 15—Elmer Derry said he and his wife were literally “shaken out of bed” when a pickup truck slammed into the side of their Derry home at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. ... Read more »

Truck driver convicted in Colorado pileup that killed 4

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — A truck driver accused of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on a Colorado highway has been convicted of vehicular ... Read more »

Fatal stabbing of U.K. lawmaker declared a terrorist incident by police

London's Metropolitan Police Department has declared the fatal stabbing of British lawmaker David Amess a terrorist incident. Amess died earlier Friday after he was stabbed multiple times while meeting with ... Read more »

Ruling could block Alabama execution scheduled next week

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Willie B. Smith III. Federal judges heard arguments Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 about whether Willie B. ... Read more »

Ida flooding victim says Queens not getting federal aid that de Blasio promised

Woodside resident Julia Nieves ripped Mayor Bill de Blasio and FEMA for failing to get any federal aid to victims of Hurricane Ida. Matthew McDermott A Hurricane Ida flooding victim ... Read more »

Anti-vaxxer claims doctors banished unvaccinated from surgeries

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A furious patient claims he was forced to wait outside a medical centre in a makeshift plastic booth after the practice banned him ... Read more »

David Ortiz clowns Alex Rodriguez's yoga video: ‘WTF is that?'

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Alex Rodriguez (@arod) Alex Rodriguez worked out with David Ortiz, then he got worked over by the ex-Red Sox slugger. “Much ... Read more »

Female former Afghan lawmakers, judges meet Greek PM

1 / 3Greece AfghanistanAfghan women attend a meeting with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Maximos Mansion, in Athens, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. The Afghan women, part of a group ... Read more »

2nd Judicial Circuit Judge, Clifton Newman to hear Alex Murdaugh bond hearing Tuesday morning

Oct. 15—On Friday afternoon, Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Alex Murdaugh's bond hearing on charges of obtaining property by false pretenses will take place at the Richland County Courthouse before ... Read more »

Wagener man charged with attempted murder in Holley Street shooting

Oct. 15—A Wagener man was arrested Wednesday in connection to a May shooting . Frankie Lee Walker II, 34, is charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during ... Read more »

Police say accomplice in Wagener Road murder drove a getaway car, police warn suspect is 'armed and dangerous'

Oct. 15—The Aiken County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's assistance in locating a suspect in an Oct. 2 shooting death . Robert Gene Payne II, 29, is wanted for ... Read more »

Aiken man charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, criminal sexual conduct with a minor

Oct. 15—An Aiken man was arrested Wednesday in connection to multiple sex crimes against a minor. Matthew Ramon Drayton, 23, is charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree ... Read more »

UK police review security as Sir David Amess' killing declared extremism

© Provided by The National Sir David Amess attends Old Leigh Regatta in Leigh-on-Sea, in 2019. Alamy Prayers were offered for the British Conservative MP Sir David Amess on Friday ... Read more »

Join the race for half-term hols with savings up to £1,000 for families

WILL you be joining the race for cut-price half-term hols? As testing and red-list restrictions ease, the next weekend offers the best chance for a low-cost and hassle-free overseas trip ... Read more »

Jeff Bezos' Girlfriend Lauren Sanchez Gives Her Little Brown Dress a Sporty Twist in Alexander McQueen Sneakers on Lunch Date

© Christopher Peterson / SplashNews.com Billionaire Jeff Bezos And His Girlfriend Lauren Sanchez Leave Cipriani Soho In New York City Lauren Sanchez gives a lesson in being effortlessly chic. The ... Read more »

Josh Gordon plans on making most of his latest opportunity

© Provided by NBC Sports Chiefs receiver Josh Gordon had not played a game since Dec. 15, 2019, when he stepped on the field last week. Gordon saw nine snaps ... Read more »

NFL: No one else in league cited with violation for vulgar emails

The NFL has found no other current team or league personnel to have sent emails containing racist, homophobic or misogynistic language similar to messages written by Jon Gruden that led ... Read more »

Bill Clinton to spend 4th night in Orange County ICU for IV treatment

Former President Clinton, hospitalized at an Orange County hospital because of an infection, will remain another night in the intensive care unit to continue intravenous antibiotic treatment, a spokesman said ... Read more »

'Lawless city?' Worry after Portland police don't stop chaos

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A crowd of 100 people wreaked havoc in downtown Portland, Oregon, this week – smashing storefront windows, lighting dumpsters on fire and causing at least $500,000 ... Read more »

Louisiana-Monroe vs. Liberty: How to watch, schedule, live stream info, game time, TV channel

© Provided by CBS Sports Oct 6, 2018; Oxford, MS, USA; Louisiana Monroe Warhawks head coach Matt Viator at right waits to lead his team onto the field to face ... Read more »

Earn Your Pilot Wings with a Drone Made for Beginners

© Amazon There are two things you no longer need in order to capture excellent aerial camera footage: a helicopter or a $2,000 drone. There are plenty of drones for ... Read more »