Brugge (Belgium): Lionel Messi’s first UEFA Champions League match for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) did not produce the desired result as the star-studded French club were held 1-1 by modest Belgium Champions Club Brugge in a Group A clash.
The Argentine star started his first match for PSG, teaming up with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but they failed to click together as the star-studded French outfit could not quell the stiff resistance put up by the Belgian club.
At Barcelona, Messi had teamed up brilliantly with Neymar and Luis Suarez, the trio being famously called MSN. There were hopes that his association with Neymar and Mbappe could turn out to be a big threat to the opponents. But going by the evidence from their first outing together, such a thing may take time to happen or even fail to do so. The three stars failed to gel and the result was PSG struggled to have enough shots at the goal. Despite enjoying 63 percent possession, PSG could produce only 12 shots with only two of them on target. In comparison, Club Brugge had 18 shots and five of them on the goal.
And to add to their problems, Mbappe limped off the pitch early in the second half after an awkward tangle with a pair of Brugge defenders. He was replaced by Mauro Icardi but the club will be eagerly awaiting the doctor’s verdict on him as Mbappe has been PSG’s main scorer in recent times.
Ander Herrera opened the scoring in the 15th minute for the visiting side, reaching behind him to lash home a left-footed shot after Mbappe picked him out in the middle of the penalty area.
Brugge hit back before the half-hour when Hans Vanaken powered a first time shot past Keylor Navas from Eduard Sobol’s inch-perfect cross into the centre of the box to put the match back on level terms.
Both sides pushed for the winner in the second half and Messi had a great chance saved by Simon Mignolet around 70th minutes. The score remained tied 1-1 as the Belgian side was happy to take a point off a strong side in their opening match in Group A. They now trail Manchester City, defeated RB Leipzig 6-3.
PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino faced criticism on his handling of the team but defended his star trio for failing to click together.
“It requires time for them to shine together. It requires work. I had made it clear that we’re not a team yet, we have to work for this,” he said.
Going by the way Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe fared Wednesday, they indeed need a lot of work to click together and help PSG realize their ambition of Champions League glory.