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Ligue 1: Lionel Messi gets warm ovation in Paris

Nearly four weeks after the final against France in Qatar, Messi needed only five minutes to make an impact
Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi.
File picture

AP/PTI   |   Paris   |   Published 13.01.23, 03:38 AM

Lionel Messi scored in his first game since leading Argentina to the World Cup title as French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain beat Angers 2-0.

Nearly four weeks after the final against France in Qatar, Messi needed only five minutes to make an impact. He turned near the penalty area and threaded a pass to rightback Nordi Mukiele, whose cross was turned in by 20-year-old forward Hugo Ekitike.


Messi then started the move that led to his 72nd-minute goal, with Ekitike and Mukiele combining quickly to put him through before he side-footed home. His eighth league goal this season was initially disallowed for offside but then awarded following a video review.

It was otherwise a poor performance overall from PSG against a team in last place, but the Parisian club moved six points clear at the top after second-place Lens drew 2-2 at 19th-place Strasbourg.

Messi was given a warm ovation by the crowd at Parc des Princes, who chanted his name when he applauded them back.

He scored twice against France in a wild 3-3 draw on December 18 and converted his penalty in the shootout. 

With Kylian Mbappe rested, Messi started in attack with Neymar and Ekitike. But PSG were asleep for stretches of the game and Angers had two good chances before Messi’s goal.

PSG’s players warmed up wearing T-shirts with Pele’s face on. The Brazilian great, who won a record three World Cups, died in late December at the age of 82.

In Strasbourg, forward Alexis Claude-Maurice gave Lens an 11th-minute lead but five minutes later Strasbourg led after goals from midfielder Sanjin Prcic and veteran striker Kevin Gameiro. Belgian forward Loïs Openda equalised for Lens.

Elsewhere, third-place Marseille moved within two points of Lens after winning 2-0 at Troyes.

Central defender Chancel Mbemba put Marseille ahead in the 10th after France midfielder Mattéo Guendouzi headed on a cross. Guendouzi’s France teammate Jordan Veretout made it 2-0 just after the break from Cengiz Under’s pass.

Fourth-place Rennes fell five points behind Marseille after losing 2-1 at Clermont, who won thanks to a goal five minutes into stoppage time from midfielder Johan Gastien. Rennes had two players sent off late on.

Rennes are level on points with fifth-place Monaco, who needed a stoppage-time equaliser from top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder to draw 2-2 at sixth-place Lorient. Nigeria striker Terem Moffi grabbed his 11th goal for Lorient, moving him level with PSG’s Neymar and two behind scoring leader Mbappe.

Lyon coach Laurent Blanc described Nantes manager Antoine Kombouare as “more than a close friend” before the game. Their teams drew 0-0, as did Brest and seventh-placed Lille. Toulouse had five different scores in a 5-0 win at lowly Auxerre.

Reims won 1-0 at Ajaccio to make it 10 league games unbeaten and Nice routed Montpellier 6-1.

Midfielder Kephren Thuram — the son of former France defender Lilian Thuram — dribbled past several players before setting up winger Nicolas Pepe in the 15th. Thuram doubled Nice’s lead in the 34th with a powerful shot.

Aaron Ramsey set up a second goal for Pepe in the 56th. Striker Andy Delort added another for Nice before midfielder Teji Savanier pulled one back for the visitors with a fine free-kick.

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