Lionel Messi has finally scored his long-awaited second goal in the French Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain as the league leaders thrashed the league defending champions LOSC Lille by 5-1 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Messi scored the third of the five goals PSG scored on Sunday night after some great work by striker partner Kylian Mbappe saw the ball roll into his path. He picked the ball on the edge of the box and strolled past two defenders before casually dinking over the onrushing Lille goalkeeper.
PSG began their rout of Lille in the 10th minute of the game when midfielder Danilo Pereira pounced on a loose ball as a result of a miscommunication between the Lille defenders and their goalkeeper. Messi then sent a shot wide soon after and also hit the crossbar with another one of his impressive free kicks before setting up PSG’s second goal.
He floated in a corner kick which missed all the Lille defenders to find Presnel Kimpembe who slotted home from close range. Soon after, Messi got his much-awaited goal to cap a fine first-half display before Pereira, with his second goal and a Mbappe wonder strike rounded off the rout.
Messi was behind most of the Parisiens creative play in the game just as he has been in most of the 19 matches he has played for PSG this season. His goal and assist now sees that he has contributed 13 goals in the 19 games he has played for the club, which is a decent return for a player who many consider being struggling.
The story could probably be different if not for the niggling injuries and the serious bout of Covid-19 that struck the Argentine, but he has done his bit as best as he can and PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino is in agreement.
Messi is the best in the world, says Pochettino
The PSG boss was in a joyous mood after the game in which his star signing from the summer shone and dictated the tempo of the game.
Pochettino insisted after the match that he never doubted Messi, calling his fellow Argentine “the best player in the world” and that it is only a matter of time before Messi truly gets going.
“I had no doubts, Leo is the best player in the world,” Pochettino said after the match. “Like anyone, he needs time to adapt. He needed time to recover his best physical shape, after a month without playing because of the Covid.
“It’s important that Leo shows such participation and commitment.”
Pochettino remains the subject of a move away from Parc De Princes but in the meantime, will be focused on getting PSG in the best shape to prepare for the big UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash later this month.
Mbappe noted to journalists after the match that things were starting to come together under the former Tottenham Hotspur manager.
“We keep trying to ramp things up,” Mbappe told Amazon Prime journalists. “Today it was a lot more complete, there was more movement, and more character as well.”
He also played down questions about his move to Real Madrid in the summer which many reports have claimed is all but done. “My decision is not made. I think that playing against Real Madrid changes a lot of things,” Mbappe said.
“Even though I’m free to do what I want right now, I’m not going to go and talk to the opponent or do those kinds of things. I’m focused on winning against Real Madrid, trying to make a difference and then we’ll see what happens.”
PSG is currently on track to regain their league title as they sit atop the Ligue 1 tab;e with a 13 point lead from 26 games.