Messi snatches dramatic win for PSG after Neymar stretchered off

AFP , Sunday 19 Feb 2023

Lionel Messi scored a 95th-minute free-kick to give Paris Saint-Germain a 4-3 win over Lille in an extraordinary Ligue 1 game on Sunday in which Kylian Mbappe scored twice but Neymar was taken off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury.

Messi
Paris Saint-Germain s Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his team s fourth goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lille LOSC at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on February 19, 2023. AFP


Messi's late winner came after PSG had squandered a two-goal lead and fallen 3-2 behind, with Mbappe grabbing a late equaliser before the Argentine's stunning strike.

The result ends a run of three straight defeats for PSG and moves them eight points clear of second-placed Marseille, who visit Toulouse later and then host the capital club next weekend.

"We came through it. It wasn't a great performance," Mbappe told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

"We made lots of mistakes and lost concentration too often and against a quality side you pay dearly for that, but we showed that even when we are not at our best and the context is not exactly favourable we are a different team with different players and we can always find a way."

Of immediate concern to the Parisians will be the injury to Neymar, who looked to be in tears as he was helped onto a stretcher early in the second half after turning his ankle.

The Brazilian's fitness is now likely to dominate headlines in the run-up to next week's Marseille showdown but also the second leg of PSG's Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich on March 8.

- Ankle injury -

"'Ney' has sprained his ankle. We will see how serious it is. We don't know yet -- he is undergoing tests at the moment," said PSG coach Christophe Galtier, who also saw left-back Nuno Mendes come off in the first half with an ankle ligament injury that the coach insisted "doesn't seem too serious."

"I hope 'Ney' is going to come back quickly because he is an important player for us," added Mbappe about his Brazilian teammate.

Galtier's team were looking to bounce back from a 1-0 home loss to Bayern in the first leg of that European tie and they went ahead early on against Lille through Mbappe, making his first start after returning from a recent thigh injury.

Neymar soon made it 2-0 against a side PSG beat 7-1 in their last meeting in August, but Bafode Diakite pulled one back for fifth-placed Lille midway through the first half.

The home side then saw Neymar carried off within five minutes of the second half starting, and Lille drew level when Jonathan David converted a penalty for his 17th goal this season following a Marco Verratti foul in the box.

Jonathan Bamba made it 3-2 to the away side with a superb finish and the home side looked set for a fourth successive loss before Mbappe converted from a Juan Bernat assist with just three minutes remaining.

That was his 27th goal this season in all competitions, but it was not the end of the drama as Messi won a free-kick when he was fouled just outside the area by Benjamin Andre.

The World Cup winner stepped up to dispatch the dead ball into the net off the post to round off a remarkable game.

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