Paris, Aug 15: Lionel Messi was introduced to some 49,000 fans in a full Parc des Princess stadium before watching his teammates beat Strasbourg 4-2 on Saturday’s Ligue 1 action.
The former Barcelona ace was presented with PSG’s other four summer signings Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Achraf Hakimi in a welcome ceremony at the center of the pitch just one hour before the kick-off.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner then joined Neymar and his fellow Argentine Angel di Maria to watch from the stands as Mauricio Pochettino’s side escaped a fightback from the visitors in the second half to pocket their second win in as many games in the new season.
Mauro Icardi opened the scoring for PSG only two minutes into the game and Kylian Mbappe made it 2-0 in the 25th minute before the French forward set up another for Julian Draxler only two minutes later.
Strasbourg created more chances in the second half and clawed back to 3-2 thanks to two headers from Kevin Gameiro and Ludovic Ajorque. But they suffered a blow in the closing period when Alexander Djiku fouled on Icardi to receive his second yellow card and make his team being reduced to 10 men.
Pablo Sarabia tapped in PSG’s fourth from Mbappe’s cross in the 86th minute to make the score out of Strasbourg’s reach.
Mbappe, whose contract with PSG is to expire next year, has been linked with Real Madrid recently as home fans whistled at the 22-year-old amid transfer speculation.
“I did not hear the whistles,” Pochettino insisted. “I am happy with him. He’s focused on what he needs to do and had a really good game. He must continue on this path.”
PSG’s president Nasser al-Khelaifi has said on Wednesday, at the unveiling ceremony of Messi, that Mbappe “has no reason to leave” since PSG now is the right place for him to seek for the trophies.
Earlier in the day, defending champions Lille were hammered 4-0 at home by Nice, whose coach Christophe Galtier had led Lille to the title last season and arrived in the southern French team this summer.
Denmark striker Kasper Dolberg hit a brace for Nice with Hicham Boudaoui and Amine Gouiri were also on target.