This is the moment that fans have been waiting for since Lionel Messi was introduced as a Paris Saint-Germain player almost two months ago.
Argentina were only temporarily prominent for their new club and did not score, but chose their time in Tuesday’s heavyweight Champions League clash with Manchester City.
It was a trademark strike by Argentina that gave PSG a 2-0 lead against Pep Guardiola’s side in the 74th minute, a victory that sends a message to the rest of Europe, even At the beginning of this season.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was having a quiet evening until he collected half of the city near the right touch line and cheated on the goal.
He stopped Emery Laporte and played a one-on-two with Kelin Mbabane before sending a shot high from just outside the box.
Guardiola – who has previously been at the end of Messi’s magic with Bayern Munich and City against Barcelona – called his former student “unstoppable”.
“I don’t usually set goals, but I did,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, who came to Spain as a coach against Messi.
“I’ve seen him score a lot before on the opposition bench, so I was on the right bench at the time and could have celebrated.”
Messi left Barcelona as his all-time top scorer with 672 goals in 778 matches, a record for a club.
Now he is running in Paris and the crowd of Parc des Princes, who will not forget his evening, will hope that this was the first goal of many.
“It’s true I was anxious to get my first goal,” Messi, who was only appearing for the fourth time by Pochettino, told Canal Plus.
The 34-year-old came to Paris with his eyes set on winning the Champions League, the trophy he last won in 2015 against Barcelona.
A team of Messi, Mbabane and Neymar – not to mention Angel Di Maria, who was suspended on Tuesday – could hit nothing less than a win over PSG.
The early signs of the season have not always been promising, with PSG taking a 1-1 lead at Clubbrook in their first European game and facing largely limited opposition on their way to eight of eight wins in League 1. Had to do
But Macy believes that MBP and Neymar are developing their relationship with the so-called MNM.
“As we move forward, we get to know each other better,” he said.
Pochettino admitted that his team sometimes suffered “trouble”, especially when Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva hit a quick bar for City in the first half.
This is the first time that the Qatar-owned PSG has beaten the Abu Dhabi-backed city, losing in the quarter-finals in 2016 and then in the semi-finals last season.
The city is now one point behind Parisians and Clubbroug in their Champions League group, but the two leading financial powers of the modern European game will still definitely make it to the last 16.
Guardiola will be happy that he doesn’t have to worry about playing against Messi again until the reverse fixture in November, yet in many ways it was the least important match of the week for the city.
Guardiola’s side, winners in last season’s Champions League final at Chelsea on Saturday, now have little to say about the Premier League’s Liverpool tour this weekend.
“We played well with the personality but we couldn’t score,” Guardiola said.
“Now we’re going to have a good meal tonight, we’re going to have a glass of wine, we’re going to recover and we’re going to prepare for the game on Sunday,” he told BT Sport.