Lionel Messi scored his first goal for PSG as Mauricio Pochettino’s men secured a statement 2-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain successfully avenged their UEFA Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Manchester City with a convincing 2-0 victory at Parc des Princes. Former Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye netted inside ten minutes before Lionel Messi broke his duck at PSG to seal all three points for the hosts.
Only seven minutes on the clock, and the game began in intense fashion. PSG rushed forward for the first time, and Idrissa Gueye crushed home his fifth goal of the season. Kylian Mbappe latched onto the ball down the right flank after being released by Achraf Hakimi and delivered a dangerous low cross, which missed Neymar, slashing his foot in the air; Gueye was on hand to control and rocketed a smashing strike into the top right corner.
Shortly afterwards, City seemed to be on the verge of equalizing when Kevin De Bruyne floated in a beautiful cross into the head of Raheem Sterling. The Englishman’s header rebounded against the crossbar while Bernardo Silva’s effort hit the woodwork again before PSG scrambled the ball clear.
PSG almost doubled their advantage just before half-time when Mbappe set up Marquinhos from a training corner routine, but the Brazilian could not convert the chance. City dominated possession and had several chances in both halves. Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Ruben Dias’s header at the back post before De Bruyne went close after sneaking in behind PSG’s off-guard backline.
However, the night was to be remembered for a moment of magic from Messi. The Argentine picked up the ball on the halfway line and scuttled in from right flank before breezing past Aymeric Laporte. Then, he exchanged passes with Mbappe, and the City defence cut open in the blink of an eye, the Frenchman flicked the ball into his path before he curled an effortless strike into the top corner. Here’s how The Hard Tackle rated both teams.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 7.5/10
Making a rare start in the PSG goal, Donnarumma was unbeatable on the day and made routine saves from Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez, although the stop to deny De Bruyne at 1-0 was crucial. Looked a little unconvincing dealing with crosses.
Achraf Hakimi: 8/10
Excellent defensively. Kept Jack Grealish quiet throughout on his own and did a decent job going forward with his powerful bursts from deep. Threatened to cause problems for City offensively but seldom took part in PSG’s attack after the first goal. Contributed with 4 tackles, 1 interception and 5 clearances.
The PSG captain put on a typical aggressive and proactive defensive performance. A true leader, which is frequently lacking since Thiago Silva left, Marquinhos was also dominant in the air. Made several important blocks and clearances from crosses. This PSG squad relies heavily on him.
Presnel Kimpembe: 6/10
Constantly hounded at the sight of Raheem Sterling getting past him easily but grew into the game, and his positioning was excellent throughout the ninety.
Nuno Mendes: 7/10
Nervous in possession at times early on but Mendes tracked runners from wide areas well and handled Mahrez smartly in the second half after the Algerian was offered a lot of space in the first half. Mendes was a decent outlet pushing forward.
Idrissa Gueye: 8/10
Idrissa Gueye made more recoveries (8) and more tackles (5) than any other PSG player against Man City.
And he opened the scoring. pic.twitter.com/56qiRDiZXg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2021
Produced a stunning finish into the top right corner to give PSG the lead, dealt with De Bruyne and Mahrez drifting inside. He offered balance to the Parisiens and was brilliant at breaking up play effectively winning the ball back in midfield areas tonight as well as contributed in attack. His goal-scoring output has improved lately under Pochettino.
Marco Verratti: 6/10
Verratti has had better games but he was still constantly buzzing on the pitch, and his performance was filled with clever short passes and touches to help his team maintain control of possession. Faded late on and was subbed off.
Ander Herrera: 6/10
An average performance from the former Manchester United man. Should have done better with an effort from the edge of the box that went straight at Ederson. Herrera and Gueye were the grinders in the engine room, outlining the defensive work.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
A relatively quiet performance from the Argentine that indicated he was pushed back too quickly niggling with injury. But Messi showed his brilliance with a fine finish for the second goal, leaving Ederson helpless. Had to come very deep to pick up the ball at times.
Messi has scored 27 UCL goals vs English clubs, the most such goals in competition history!
Lionel Messi: 27
Cristiano Ronaldo: 12
Robert Lewandowski: 10
Thomas Müller: 10 pic.twitter.com/S2Wf8C2HvC
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) September 28, 2021
Kylian Mbappe: 7/10
Carried PSG forward and was involved in virtually every attacking move from his team. Lively with his dribbling and was a constant threat. Mbappe’s sparkling runs were the key to both the goals. The Citizens could not handle his pace and unpredictability.
Another frustrating display from the Brazilian, who failed to produce anything significant and had little impact on the game, frequently slowing down the momentum. Had his nice moments playing tricks and flicks for the cameras but needs to step up.
Giorgino Wijnaldum: 5/10
Replaced Verratti in the 78th minute, energized the midfield and defended deep to stop Manchester City’s late attacking waves.
Danilo Pereira: N/A
Came on very late and did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
On his 200th appearance for Manchester City, Ederson had nothing else to do other than retrieve the ball from the back of the net. The Brazilian goalkeeper could do nothing about Gueye’s fierce shot or Messi’s exquisite strike into the top corner.
Kyle Walker: 6/10
Walker defended Neymar really well, with his recovery pace playing a crucial role. However, he struggled to handle Messi and Mbappe.
Ruben Dias: 5/10
Not at his best level yet this campaign. He marshalled the Manchester City defence against arguably the most lethal trio in the world. Was solid overall but could do little about either PSG goals.
Aymeric Laporte: 5/10
Similar to Dias, Laporte struggled for large parts against PSG’s star-studded frontline. His rising frustration was visible, especially with Neymar. Distribution wise, he was decent and started a few promising Manchester City attacks.
Joao Cancelo: 6/10
A huge step back after his outstanding performance against Chelsea. Bombarded the wings and was a menace on the left flank but left far too much space at the back. An outing riddled with poor decision making and he gave the ball away frequently. Blasted a powerful first-half shot on goal.
Bernardo Silva: 5/10
Bernardo Silva didn't score here 😨 pic.twitter.com/VjUGu63lHE
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 28, 2021
Aside from his terrible open goal miss from four yards which struck the crossbar, Bernardo Silva was more of the same – energetic and actively pressing from midfield.
Ran the midfield show. Was brilliant at moving the ball and his array of passing was second to none on the field. Showed his aggressive and combative side and made a game-high six tackles.
Kevin De Bruyne: 6/10
Not quite at his best, but De Bruyne still probed well and looked incredibly dangerous. His pinpoint cross for Sterling showed his improvisational quality. His movement was evasive but he needs that bit more of match sharpness. Was fortunate not to get a red card for a vicious tackle on Gueye.
Riyad Mahrez: 7/10
Mahrez worked out many promising positions for himself down the right flank and had the beating of Nuno Mendes at times. He pulled off the trigger the most times on the pitch but lacked that end product. Failed to intercept the ball in the moment leading to Gueye’s goal.
Raheem Sterling: 5/10
Lively. It was unfortunate that a header did not result in a goal. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, keeping PSG’s centre-backs busy all night long. He squandered a fantastic chance from De Bruyne’s cross in the first half but lacked sharpness in the attacking third while playing in an unfamiliar centre-forward role.
Jack Grealish: 6/10
His direct running helped pin back the Parisiens’ defensive line and provided some penetration on the left side, but that was eased out as the game went on. Eventually got subbed off.
Phil Foden: 7/10
Probably the best winger for Manchester City despite missing the first 68 minutes. Played very well, added an injection of energy and made some intelligent deft movements inside the box — a certain starter for the weekend’s Liverpool game.
Gabriel Jesus: 5/10
Came on for Sterling and provided more of an outlet up top.