Lionel Messi’s stunning first Paris Saint-Germain goal sealed a 2-0 Champions League victory over Manchester City at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
Messi had failed to find the net in his first three PSG appearances but marked his return to Mauricio Pochettino’s team with a trademark run and exquisite finish 16 minutes from time.
Idrissa Gueye had given PSG an eighth-minute lead with a brilliant finish of his own, a lead which City should have cancelled out when Bernardo Silva hit the bar from three yards in the first half after Raheem Sterling’s header had cannoned off the woodwork, but their hopes of a comeback were extinguished by Messi’s latest moment of magic.
PSG’s first Champions League victory of the season moves them top of Group A, while City drop to third – behind Club Brugge – after suffering their first group-stage defeat since 2018 on a testing night in the French capital.
How the teams lined up | Match statsChampions League results | Group tablesGet Sky Sports – Latest offersMessi magic overcomes Man City
With all eyes were on PSG’s formidable front three of Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar it came as a surprise when the hosts took the lead through an unexpected source inside eight minutes, though the star-studded attack did all have a hand in the opener.
Messi found Achraf Hakimi, who released Mbappe to the byline from where his cutback saw Neymar fluff a shot from 12 yards and inadvertently present the ball to Gueye, who produced a clinical finish his attacking team-mates would have been proud of into the top corner of the Manchester City goal.
Gueye’s fourth goal in his last six matches should have been cancelled out when Kevin de Bruyne’s stabbed cross with the outside of his boot found Sterling, who planted a header against the bar before Silva turned the rebound onto the frame of the PSG goal when it looked easier to score.
Silva protested he had been fouled while taking on the shot but not even the referee could spare the Portuguese for the embarrassment of his shocking miss, and neither could De Bruyne soon after as his near-post drive was kept out by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
PSG came close to doubling their lead on 38 minutes when Ander Herrera’s drive was tipped over by Ederson and, from the resulting corner, Mbappe weaved into the area and drilled a teasing ball across the face of goal which none of his PSG team-mates had gambled to get on the end of.
De Bruyne was fortunate to see yellow and not red for a high lunge on Gueye before Donnarumma, who was making his Champions League debut, continued to impress with an excellent save to prevent Ruben Dias’ towering header from finding the net on the stroke of half-time, as PSG went into the break with their noses in front.
Sterling should have done better when presented with a chance to draw City level within two minutes of the restart, but he dragged a shot well wide of the PSG goal. De Bruyne then stung the legs of Donnarumma as City’s attempted comeback continued to be repelled.
PSG spent the majority of the second half staunchly defending their area but gave City a reminder of their threat on the counter when Hakimi’s pass released Neymar past a static defensive line, but the pace of Kyle Walker ensured the Brazilian could only fire into the side-netting.
It proved to be a precursor for what was to follow as Messi rolled back the years with a solo run through midfield, played a one-two with Mbappe on the edge of the area and then rifled an unstoppable first PSG goal into the top corner of the City goal.
City peppered the PSG goal in search of a late lifeline by Donnarumma and his defence stood firm as Pochettino’s team issued a Champions League statement on a night that will be remembered for yet more Messi magic.
Opta statsParis 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.PSG’s Lionel Messi has scored more Champions League goals against Man City (7) than any other player, while his seven goals against sides managed by Pep Guardiola (two vs Bayern Munich, five against Man City with him as manager) are also the most of any player.Manchester City had 18 shots in this match, their joint-most without scoring in a Champions League match, also failing with all of their 18 shots against Porto in December 2020. What the manager said…
Man City head coach Pep Guardiola speaking to BT Sport: “It was a good performance, we did everything, but we couldn’t score. We defended well, they defended deep and, with the quality they have, they were always dangerous on the counterattack. We controlled them and unfortunately, we could not score. Nothing more to say other than my biggest compliments to the team.
“All the time [we were in control]. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In this kind of game the [clinical] moments are important, of course. It’s not just the ones [Sterling and Bernardo Silva’s] in the first half, in the second half we had many, Donnarumma made many saves.
“But the team was there like they were at Stamford Bridge, the team is alive. We played to win but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to score goals and they did. Messi’s goal was fantastic.
“Now we are going to eat well tonight, we are going to drink a glass of wine, recover and then prepare for the game [at Liverpool] on Sunday.”
PSG travel to Rennes in Ligue 1 on Sunday at 12pm, while Manchester City head to Liverpool on Super Sunday at 4.30pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League.