PSG vs. Angers 2-0: Player ratings as Messi scores on his comeback

PSG vs. Angers 2-0: Player ratings as Messi scores on his comeback.

PSG vs. Angers 2-0: Paris Saint-Germain defeated Angers comfortably in Ligue 1 on Wednesday night, with Lionel Messi scoring a fine goal in his first club appearance since winning the World Cup last month. Hugo Ekitike also scored in the first half.

To rebound from their first-season loss against Lens in their previous league match, PSG came out strong, and Ekitike scored within a few minutes.

In the absence of Kylian Mbappe, the teenager capitalized on his chance by neatly directing a low cross from the excellent right wingback Nordi Mukiele into the bottom corner.

Except for when Gianluigi Donnarumma was ejected from his goal, and Juan Bernat decided to regain control, PSG maintained possession dominance. However, a set piece handed them their next obvious opportunity. Messi floated a left-wing free-kick into the penalty area, which Sergio Ramos dove for and forced Paul Bernardoni to make an outstanding reaction save.

Bernardoni did not realize that the offside flag had been raised as he dove to his left to block Messi’s shot as PSG threatened to shift gears for a second time little over thirty minutes into the game.

The second half started like the first, with Bernardoni again making futile efforts, this time a double save from the approaching Mukiele. Shortly before the hour mark, Ekitike’s low shot to the near post resulted in a Bernardoni save that counted for something.

The fragile nature of PSG’s tight advantage was inherent to its nature. But when Angers had a rare opportunity to tie the game, Abdallah Sima could only miss the goal from a terrific position inside the penalty area. It gave Angers confidence as they started to press forward more often in search of an equaliser, as the hosts seemed to have sputtered by that point.

This optimism was soon destroyed by Messi, who, by his own standards, had been rather quiet up until that point. With less than 20 minutes remaining, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner came alive in a fast and complex move with Ekitike and Mukiele on the outskirts of the penalty area, with the latter putting the ball into his path for a composed finish. Initially, an incorrect flag was raised, but VAR intervened to ensure that it stood.

Neymar was barely offside as he slammed the ball into the net with his back to goal. Again, VAR was used, but the assistant referee was accurate this time.

There was still time for Bernardoni to make two more outstanding stops, first deflecting a Neymar free-kick and then diving to his right to prevent Mukiele from scoring with a header from a stoppage-time corner.

Player ratings for PSG (3-4-2-1)

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 5/10 – Despite having nothing to do, it did not seem very convincing.

CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Rarely gave the ball away and was not tested without the ball.

Sergio Ramos, center-back, received a scoreable diving header in the first half. They carried the ball forward during the decisive second goal’s buildup. Defense-strengthened.

CB: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Angers’ rare opportunities originated on his side.

RM: Nordi Mukiele – 9/10 – There was enough running room on the right. Two excellent assists, and only a spectacular stop prevented him from scoring.

CM: Fabian Ruiz – 6/10 – Nearly faultless in position, but could not create or win the ball back as frequently as his midfield partner.

Excellent on both sides of the ball.

LM: Juan Bernat, 6/10 – Functional left to right.

AM: Lionel Messi – 7/10 – Not his most crucial effort before exploding into life with 20 minutes remaining to score the game-winning goal. The ideal method of return.

Neymar was disappointingly silent until the closing 15 minutes of the match.

ST: Hugo Ekitike – 8/10 – It was crucial for his confidence that he capitalized on his early opportunity when he stepped in for Mbappe. Well-executed goal to break the tie. They possessed more chances and played a crucial part in setting up Messi’s goal.

Manager: Christophe Galtier – 6/10 – A handful of players that would typically start were absent. The squad on the field lost momentum at the hour mark, but he chose to ride it out rather than attempt to make adjustments.

Discontents player ratings (4-4-2)

GK: Bernardoni (8); RB: Bamba (6), CB: Hountondji (6), CB: Blazic (6), LB: Doumbia (6); RM: Capelle (6), CM: Mendy (5), CM: Bentaleb (6), LM: Abdelli (7); ST: Hunou (6), ST: Sima (5)

Subs: Salama (6), El Melali (6), Boufal (6), Thioub (6), Taibi (5)

Nordi Mukiele was named the game’s MVP (PSG): PSG vs. Angers