Leo Messi : PSG’s Newest Recruit.
Before Saturday’s 4-2 home triumph against Strasbourg in the French league, Lionel Messi stood and smiled, seeming enthralled as Paris Saint-Germain fans screamed his name “Leo Messi, Leo Messi.”
PSG’s newest recruit was among four others introduced on the field before kickoff to 49,000 supporters at Parc des Princes.
Messi was not in the actual squad for the game, which saw PSG coasting at 3-0 only to get pegged back to 3-2 until a late red card for Strasbourg eased the pressure.
Icardi scored after three minutes, Kylian Mbappe found the net with a heavily deflected shot leading to an own-goal, and Mbappe’s deflected cross allowed Germany midfielder Julian Draxler to make it 3-0 in the 27th minute.
Kevin Gameiro, a former PSG forward, scored for the visitors in the 53rd minute. Midway through the second half, imposing striker Ludovic Ajorque’s even stronger header drew it back to 3-2, eliciting cheers from the home crowd.
But after Strasbourg defender Alexander Djiku was sent off in the 82nd, Mbappe set up winger Pablo Sarabia from close range for PSG’s fourth goal.
Messi, who won the Champions League with Messi at Barcelona in 2015, sat in the stands with his new and old teammate Neymar.
Messi only recently returned from an extended holiday after helping Argentina win the Copa America, where his side beat Neymar’s Brazil in the final.
Although Messi has started training with PSG, he is not yet match fit.
Sergio Ramos appreciated Messi, his Barcelona Nemesis.
In a scene which few could have predicted even recently, former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos applauded Messi _ his eternal Barcelona nemesis and the all-time record scorer in “Clasicos” between Barcelona and Madrid _ as he joined him on the podium.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy’s Euro 2020 star goalkeeper, Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum, and former Inter Milan right back Achraf Hakimi all received standing ovations.
But nothing compared to the huge one reserved for Messi, a four-time Champions League and six-time Golden Ball winner.
He joined PSG on a two-year deal this week after his new deal with Barcelona sensationally collapsed and left him in tears as PSG moved quickly.
Earlier Saturday, coach Christophe Galtier returned to Lille and punished his old club as Nice won 4-0.
Striker Kasper Dolberg and midfielder Hichem Boudaoui scored inside the first four minutes, with lively forward Amine Gouiri involved in both.
Last Saturday, Lille came back from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3, but there was no such comeback this week, as Gouiri made it 3-0 from the penalty spot immediately after the break, and Dolberg added his second midway through the second half.
Last season, Galtier’s excellent coaching helped Lille win the title against the odds.
But Lille was not keen on letting him leave one year before the end of his contract, and Nice had to pay 4 million euros ($4.7 million) in compensation. This created tense relations between Galtier and Lille president Olivier Letang.
It must have been a strange sight for Galtier as the league trophy he won, and the recent Champions Trophy, were presented to the home fans.
They were soon in despondent mood as Nice went 2-0 up.
Playing his first match since scoring three goals for Denmark at Euro 2020, Dolberg found the net in the first minute from close range.
Gouri set up Boudaoui after poor defence from Zeki Celik under pressure from Dolberg, and he sent a strong shot past Lille’s new goalkeeper Leo Jardim, who has conceded seven goals in two games since replacing Mike Maignan.
Marseille hosts Bordeaux in the pick of Sunday’s games.
Monaco lost 1-0 at Lorient on Friday and has only one point from its opening two games, having finished third last season.
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