Returning hero Messi strikes late against Angers to send PSG six points clear

AP - Francois Mori

Far from the madding crowd in Argentina, Lionel Messi marked his return from his World Cup-winning exploits to domestic action with Paris Saint-Germain's second goal against bottom-of-the-table Angers.

It was a tonic for the troops on a cold Wednesday night in January on the leafy western fringes of the French capital.

Nearly a month after his brace in the final against France at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, the 72nd minute strike from the Argentina skipper glossed over an otherwise ordinary performance from the Ligue 1 pacesetters against a spirited but limited team.

And it had started so well at the Parc des Princes.

Hugo Ekitike's fifth minute opener arrived with bewildering ease.

Messi was given the ball from a throw-in, the 35-year-old passed to Nordi Mukiele who slid a pass into the penalty area from the right for the 20-year-old Frenchman to scoop past the Angers goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.

It was a slick finish and furnished the perfect platform for the Ligue 1 leaders. But despite the presence of Messi, who was cheered unreservedly during the warm-up for his feats in Qatar, and the Brazil star Neymar, PSG could not create any clear openings.

A set piece nearly provided the second breakthrough mid way through the half. But Sergio Ramos's header from Messi's free-kick was well saved by Bernardoni.

Possession

Despite monopolising possession and intricate passing patterns, PSG appeared lost for ideas as Angers began to sense a chance to gain an unlikely point.


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