Lionel Messi has scored twice in short succession, including an incredible Panenka-style penalty, to rescue Paris Saint-Germain as it rallied to overcome Leipzig 3-2 in the Champions League after being controlled for long intervals
PARIS (AP) — Lionel Messi scored twice in short succession, including an incredible Panenka-style penalty, to rescue Paris Saint-Germain as it rallied to overcome Leipzig 3-2 in the Champions League after being controlled for extended minutes on Tuesday.
Messi equalized in the 67th minute, tapping home from close range after goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi deflected his first shot onto the post. He next sent Gulacsi flying to the left before dinking the ball sweetly down the middle for his third goal since joining PSG from Barcelona.
They have all come in the Champions League, with Kylian Mbappe setting up the first two and winning the penalty for Messi’s winner against Leipzig in the 74th minute.
Mbappe pointed directly at Messi to tell him he could take the spot-kick.
“It’s normal, it’s about respect,” Mbappe remarked. “He’s the best player in the world. I’ve always said it’s a privilege to play alongside him.”
It was the 34th time that Messi scored at least two goals in a Champions League game, extending the Argentina captain’s tally to 123 goals in the tournament. He remains second to longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo on 137.
Mbappe next took a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time, granted following a video review for a foul on right-back Achraf Hakimi, but he blazed it well wide.
PSG sits leading Group A with seven points, one more than Manchester City. Leipzig is last with no points.
Mbappe opened the scoring with a ninth-minute goal.
But after that, the visitors gained control by pressing high up the field and forcing anxious PSG into multiple blunders.
“(Were we) lucky, no? You generate your own luck,” Mbappe stated. “But of course, it was difficult, Leipzig performed brilliantly. We had some low spells which were possibly a little bit too low.”
Striker Andre Silva equalized in the 28th and midfielder Nordic Mukiele volleyed in strongly in the 57th, with left defender Angelino setting up both with his deft left foot.
“Leipzig has a terrific team, full of confidence,” PSG winger Julian Draxler remarked. “They caused us some problems, but we mercilessly used the room we were allowed.”
PSG was missing forwards Neymar and Mauro Icardi, which gave Draxler a rare start alongside Mbappe and Messi in the attack. Neymar has a strained adductor while Icardi was excused for family reasons.
Draxler’s immediate flick from a long Marquinhos pass put Mbappe through, and he cut past a defender expertly before placing the ball into the bottom left corner for the opening goal.
But with American coach Jesse Marsch yelling commands from the touchline, Leipzig highlighted apparent deficiencies in coach Mauricio Pochettino’s club, which despite winning nine of 10 league games has labored and required late goals.
“We played well, we had lots of wonderful moments, and it’s difficult to accept the result,” Marsch remarked. “We had the game in hand at 2-1, they weren’t scary at the time. We have to take things to step by step. We mustn’t make mistakes in this competition if we want to survive.”
Lively attacker Christopher Nkunku, transferred by PSG to Leipzig two years ago, posed huge issues with his pace and mobility.
After beating defender Presnel Kimpembe in the air, he headed the ball down to Silva and the Portugal attacker superbly cushioned the ball before volleying against the post.
One minute later, Silva was celebrating as Nkunku brilliantly moved the ball from right to left and Angelino overlapped nicely to turn it back to pick out Silva near the back post.
Nkunku then went near when he quickly skipped past his former teammate Kimpembe but pulled his shot just wide.
When PSG’s defense went missing again Angelino had time to float over a lofted pass that Mukiele volleyed in.
Messi, who scored a fantastic first goal for PSG in the 2-0 win against Manchester City three weeks ago, played better in the second half but had little influence until his equalizer and then delighted Parc des Princes to a delightful penalty.
In Group A’s other game, Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez scored twice as City destroyed Club Brugge 5-1 in Belgium.