Lionel Messi scores for PSG in first game back since World Cup triumph



Lionel Messi celebrated his return to Paris Saint-Germain with a goal in his first game back since he left the World Cup.

The 35-year-old only returned to training in the new year after taking some time off to celebrate and recover after Qatar 2022, where he finally won the trophy that had always eluded him in one of the best final ever.

But the attacker didn’t appear to be suffering from a hangover when he returned to action on Wednesday with a goal from close range in PSG’s 2-0 win against Angers.

Messi also paid tribute to Pele before the match, wearing a T-shirt with the Brazilian’s face on it during warm-up along with his teammates.

PSG are comfortably at the top of the league, despite Christophe Galtier having to change his squad as he brings players back in after the World Cup.

Kylian Mbappé, a beaten finalist in Qatar, was rested for Wednesday’s game, allowing players like youngster Hugo Ekitiké to get some playing time.

The 20-year-old striker impressed when given the opportunity this season and opened the scoring with a stunning first-half finish.

Messi, who plays alongside Neymar Jr. the attack followed, then doubled the lead in the 72nd minute after a well timed run and right foot finish.

The linesman had initially flagged for offside, but the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) ignored the call and the goal was awarded.

Victory on Messi’s return is welcome news for PSG, who lost 3-1 to Lens last week for the first time in the league this season.

“Yes, it was very important to get back to winning ways. We have rivals who push hard,” Galtier told PSGTV after the game.

“We knew we were going to have a difficult game because Angers is a team that plays good football and creates big problems tactically.

“I also insist that the situation – after the World Cup – means we’ve had a lot of players absent, the group was very dispersed and little by little everyone is coming back and reconnecting.”

PSG, who are six points clear at the top of the table, will face Rennes in their next game on Sunday.

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