Lionel Messi put in a star performance, scoring twice as Paris Saint-Germain beat RB Leipzig 3-2 in the Champions League, to put the ball back in Cristiano Ronaldo’s court
Messi has taken some time to get up to speed with PSG following his free transfer from Barcelona over the summer, but he looked the real deal at the Parc des Princes.
While the 34-year-old is yet to score in three Ligue 1 appearances, he has saved his best for the big Champions League occasions in Paris.
His stunning strike in the 2-0 win over Manchester City last month reminded fans of his brilliance and his team needed another star performance against Leipzig in game week three.
PSG took the lead when Kylian Mbappe powered in a low finish on the counter-attack, but they always looked vulnerable and Leipzig hit back impressively.
Sebastien Muylaert/PSG via Getty Images)
Andre Silva netted an equaliser from Angelino’s back-post cross and the former Man City left-back was at it again in the second half, picking out Nordi Mukiele to make it 2-1 after 57 minutes.
It was then that Messi stole the show. First Julian Draxler and Mbappe combined down the right to set up the Argentine to side-foot in via the inside of the post to make it 2-2.
Mohamed Simakan’s clumsy challenge on Mbappe inside the box then gave Messi the chance to put PSG back into the lead.
Messi converted the penalty in true style, opting for an audacious Panenka which completely bamboozled goalkeeper Peter Gulasci.
His skill and composure was underlined in injury-time when Mbappe went for power from 12 yards after Achraf Hakimi was fouled in the area and blasted over the crossbar.
After the final whistle blew Messi’s stats came in: 91 per cent pass accuracy, 85 touches, nine duels won, seven dribbles completed, five shots, four ball recoveries and two fouls won. Not bad.
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The victory ensured PSG stayed top of Group A, ahead of Man City, who thrashed Club Brugge 5-1, and moved Messi onto 123 career Champions League goals.
It also inevitably rekindled the age-old Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate, with the former Barcelona man seemingly back in the picture.
Ronaldo started the season with a bang at Manchester United, scoring four goals in his first three games, but his output has dipped recently amid the team’s struggles.
The 36-year-old still has a record of five goals in seven matches, yet his energy-efficient playing style appears to be hindering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, who have just two wins from their last seven games in all competitions.
Ronaldo will have the chance to get back on the score sheet when United play Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
As well as helping his side record a must-need win, Ronaldo can increase his lead over Messi at the top of the all-time Champions League goalscorers list.
As things stand, Ronaldo has 136 – 13 more than Messi – although he has played 178 games in the competition, 26 more than his competitor.
Messi’s goal-to-game ratio is therefore 0.81 to Ronaldo’s 0.76, although the Portuguese forward has won five Champions League titles to Messi’s four.