‘Unstoppable’ Lionel Messi ends ‘desperate’ goal search for PSG against Man City – Football Sport

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Messi scored with his only shot of the game against Manchester City

It was the moment European football had been waiting for – and the moment Pep Guardiola knew was likely “unstoppable”.

Lionel Messi slid forward from the center line late against Manchester City at Parc des Princes, playing a one-two with Paris St-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe, leaving goalkeeper Ederson on with a shot that was nicely placed in the front Point stand corner.

It was the first club goal in his entire career that was not scored for Barcelona and sealed a 2-0 win for the side that had primarily signed him to lead them to the glory of the Champions League.

That goal ended a 264-minute run without a goal for Messi since his summer move from Spain. Manager Mauricio Pochettino celebrated with cheers. Guardiola had seen Messi up close to know it was all but inevitable. Messi himself was very relieved.

“It’s true, I really wanted to score my first goal,” Messi told French broadcaster Canal Plus. “I hadn’t played a lot lately and I only played once here at home, but I’m getting used to the team.

“The more we strikers play together, the better our relationship will be. We all need to grow together and improve and keep doing our best.”

The 34-year-old Argentine took more than a month to play his first four games for his new club due to a lack of fitness, international appearances and subsequent injury.

He hadn’t scored a goal in his first three games for PSG – against Reims, Club Brugge and Lyon – after being free on a summer transfer.

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By his standards, it was a target drought.

PSG coach Pochettino, Messi’s compatriot, was delighted with the end. “I don’t usually score goals, I keep it to myself,” he said. “But today I did it for Messi.

“I’ve spent years watching Messi score goals from the opposing side – so this time to score for my team is great.”

How Messi (number 30) scored his goal

PSG’s much-hyped top three with Neymar, Mbappe and Messi – the two most expensive players of all time and the six-time Ballon d’Or record winner – showed some promising signs.

They played a total of 44 passes among themselves, almost 10% of PSG’s total.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who was beaten by Messi and Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, was impressed by the Argentine.

“You see the pace, the strength, the balance and the technique to get it where it got it,” he said at BT Sport. “It was phenomenal.

“He was on the verge of the game, he’s with a new club and is feeling his way. Superstars have to do that too. You can see the cheering after the goal, that’s relief. It is usually not so busy afterwards. “

“We have waited and what Messi did tonight is worth waiting for.”

Former United and City midfielder Owen Hargreaves said: “Messi is the man for the big occasion. He always seems to score against Pep Guardiola teams.”

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That was Messi’s seventh goal in five Champions League games against teams managed by Guardiola – his former Barcelona boss. No other player has met Guardiola more often in the competition.

Former City midfielder Michael Brown watched the game for BBC Radio 5 Live: “The headlines are made by Messi and that’s what we expect from the great man.

“He’s back and he’s with PSG.”

Guardiola won two Champions League and three Spanish titles with Messi but couldn’t make sure his side would stop one of the game’s greats.

“We know it’s impossible to control Leo for 90 minutes,” he said.

“He didn’t have much contact with the ball – of course he came back from an injury, he needed a bit of rhythm – but we know very well when he can run and get close to the ball, he is unstoppable.”

Messi likes to do the dirty work

Messi made sure Kevin de Bruyne couldn’t shoot his free kick under the wall

Messi also stood out for his hard work in the game. Sixteen of his 60 touches were in his own half. He won the ball from Riyad Mahrez on the edge of his own box to stop a City attack.

His goal run, which was his only shot, also began in his own half.

No PSG player had more successful passes (43) in the game.

But the moment – apart from the goal – that really caught the eye was when he took on the role of draft freeze for a late Kevin de Bruyne free kick.

A player lies on the ground behind the wall so that the shooter cannot shoot with a low free kick. It was a practically made-up role to defend Messi’s free kicks.

De Bruyne went high rather than low, and his shot was saved.

“We couldn’t believe it. He’s one of the greatest of all time,” said Hargreaves.

Ferdinand added: “The moment Mauricio Pochettino asked him to do so at the training ground, someone should have walked in and there and said ‘no, no’.

“If I were on this team I would say, ‘I’ll lie down for you.’ Messi doesn’t get his gear dirty! “

“We did everything except goals”

City came high on Saturday after beating title rivals and European champions Chelsea 1-0.

They had more chances – and better – than PSG and hit the crossbar twice through Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva in one go.

PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made seven saves to Ederson’s one.

“We did everything except goals,” said Guardiola. “You defended deeply and were dangerous with your counterattacks. My biggest compliment to the team.

“The team was there – just like Stamford Bridge. What a shame. We played to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t take them much to score their goals.”

“We’re going to eat well tonight, have a glass of wine, relax and prepare for the Liverpool game on Sunday.”

Former City midfielder Brown added: “You created a lot of opportunities and I think Pep will say this is football” and he will see the positives.

“He knows it’s not about the group stage. You have a great squad and will still develop.”

Ex-City defender Sylvain Distin said: “I think the intensity was there for City, they just didn’t take their chances.

“They had more than enough chances to win this game.”

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