Lionel Messi made his home debut for PSG against Lyon on Sunday evening in the French capital – but failed to have a telling impact as Mauro Icardi was called upon to grab a late winner.
The Parc des Princes crowd gave Messi a warm reception for his Ligue 1 match. Barcelona’s icon was two points ahead of the hosts.
Messi began in a four-man front that included Neymar, Kylian, and Angel Di Maria. Ander Herrera was assigned with the task of adding solidarity to the midfield.
Gianluigi Donnarumma was given the goal, ahead of Keylor Nvas. The back four consisted of Nuno Mendes (Presnel Kimpembe), Marquinhos, Thilo Kehrer, and Thilo Khehrer.
Messi played a starring role in the first-half without being able to break the deadlock, with Anthony Lopes first saving well from his close range strike before the Argentine smashed the post with a long-range free-kick.
Mbappe was also unable to score past Lopes during the first 45 minutes. Di Maria, however, was active in the middle.
Just after the hour mark, Lyon took the lead through Lucas Paqueta’s smart low goal past Gianluigi Darumma.
PSG was now in control. Neymar won a penalty under controversial circumstances and placed the ball on goal. This sent the goalkeeper off his feet in the 66th minute.
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After 74 minutes, Messi was taken off by Pochettino for fellow new boy Achraf Hakimi, making for his longest appearance in PSG shirt on what was his third outing in all competitions.
Messi was barely able to touch his hands as he walked off the bench. He then looked at Pochettino with a confused expression and took a seat next Leandro Paredes.
PSG did manage to score a win goal with Icardi scoring with only seconds left.
Pochettino said of the incident: “I took the decision to take Leo Messi off to protect him for possible injuries.
“We have important games coming up and we want to protect him.”
Next up for PSG is a midweek trip to Metz, before taking on Montpellier at home next Saturday.