Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Messi makes first start for French giant PSG

Messi makes first start for French giant PSG

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Club Brugge as Lionel Messi made his first start for the French side. AFP

Messi makes first start for French giant PSG

Lionel Messi finally made his first start for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday but the disjointed French giants had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in Belgium to begin their Champions League campaign.

Ander Herrera gave PSG an early lead at the Jan Breydel Stadium only for Hans Vanaken to equalise for the home side, who were excellent and thoroughly deserved their point.

Messi – who had played just 24 minutes as a substitute prior to this game – is still looking for his first goal for his new club although he hit the bar in the first half and tested Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the break before picking up a yellow card for a foul on Mats Rits.

However it was not a convincing performance from the Parisians as coach Mauricio Pochettino lined up his star attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and KylianMbappe together for the first time.

“We need time for them to get to know each other,” insisted Pochettino of his front three.

Mbappe came off hurt in the second half and PSG, despite building a team with the aim of winning the Champions League, have already complicated their chances just of making it out of a difficult Group A.

They next host Manchester City, the team that eliminated them in last season’s semi-finals and who began their campaign with a remarkable 6-3 victory against RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

“I am pleased with the effort. It wasn’t a great evening for us but we need to stay calm and keep working,” said Pochettino.

“The most important thing is to get the necessary time. We will try to do better.”

‘More motivation’

Club Brugge were seen as the likely whipping boys when the draw was made but the Belgian champions are a well-run club with a proud history – European Cup runners-up in 1978 – and some excellent players.

For all the talk of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe – already christened the ‘MNM’ – for much of this game the most impressive attackers were in the blue and black stripes of the home side.

Captain Vanaken got their goal, while giant young striker Charles De Ketelaere was a constant threat and Dutchman Noa Lang regularly got in behind AchrafHakimi on the PSG right.

“We showed we have guts. Real guts,” said Brugge coach Philippe Clement.

“My players played a historic game. I am extremely proud. We have proven that physically we are very strong. I think we just had more motivation.”

Pochettino can point to the absences of Angel di Maria and IdrissaGanaGueye due to suspension as well as the injured Marco Verratti but his team will need to do much better in their coming European outings.

Yet their evening had started so well, with Mbappe turning Clinton Mata inside out before sending in a low ball from the left for the arriving Herrera to sweep home in the 15th minute.

Forget the superstar strikers, that was the Spanish midfielder’s fourth goal in PSG’s last four games.

However the home side were back level before the half-hour mark as Eduard Sobol got in behind Hakimi and cut the ball back for the unmarked Vanaken to finish.

Moments later Messi cracked a curling strike off the crossbar but KeylorNavas – preferred to Gianluigi Donnarumma in the away goal -- was kept busy saving from a Vanaken free-kick and tipping over a De Ketelaere shot.

Pochettino had to make changes at half-time, replacing midfield duo Leandro Paredes and GeorginioWijnaldum with Danilo Pereira and Julian Draxler.

Mbappe then had to hobble off with a worrying ankle knock just six minutes into the second half.

PSG finished the stronger of the two sides but Mignolet boxed away Messi’s shot in the 70th minute and the Argentine blazed another attempt over, as the Belgian fans celebrated the draw as though it were a victory.


  • Wing Bank opens new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004

    Wing Bank celebrates first anniversary as commercial bank with launch of brand-new branch. One year since officially launching with a commercial banking licence, Wing Bank on March 14 launched a new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004. The launch was presided over by

  • Girl from Stung Meanchey dump now college grad living in Australia

    After finishing her foundational studies at Trinity College and earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne in 2022, Ron Sophy, a girl who once lived at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump and scavenged for things to sell, is now working at a private

  • Ministry using ChatGPT AI to ‘ease workload’; Khmer version planned

    The Digital Government Committee is planning to make a Khmer language version of popular artificial intelligence (AI) technology ChatGPT available to the public in the near future, following extensive testing. On March 9, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications revealed that it has been using the

  • Wat Phnom hornbills attract tourists, locals

    Thanks to the arrival of a friendly flock of great hornbills, Hour Rithy, a former aviculturist – or raiser of birds – in Kratie province turned Phnom Penh tuk tuk driver, has seen a partial return to his former profession. He has become something of a guide

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to