August 15, (THEWILL) – Kylian Mbappe had a man of the match performance on Saturday to lift Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain above the challenge of Strasbourg while their latest acquisition Lionel Messi looked on from the stands at the Parc des Princes on Saturday, witnessing his new side’s 4-2 victory.
Neymar, PSG’s playmaker, was also left out of Mauricio Pochettino’s team for the encounter as the Brazilian and Messi continue to build on their fitness to the maximum before getting involved In the new Ligue 1 season.
However, all the club’s latest signings, from Messi to Gianluigi Donnarumma, from Sergio Ramos to Achraf Hakimi and to Georginio Wijnaldum were paraded on the pitch before the match as a way of introducing them to the home supporters. But only Hakimi and Wijnaldum remained in the team for the game.
Mbappe was the fulcrum about which the team functioned and had a say in how three of the four goals PSG scored came in his role as the finisher. The only goal he did not very directly influence was Mauro Icardi’s opener in the third minute of the fixture.
The Mbappe show began in the 22nd minute when he received the ball from Julian Draxler and hit it but the strike took a deflection off Ludovic Ajorque, Strasbourg’s centre forward, to beat Matz Sels in goal. Mbappe returned the favour by providing for Draxler and also for Pablo Sarabia in the 86th minute.
PSG’s final goal from Sarabia’s came moments after Strasbourg’s Alexander Djiku was sent for an early shower with a late red card. That numeric disadvantage favoured PSG as it sucked the life out of Strasbourg’s resurgent threat to draw level and, at the least, to get a point from their trip to the Parc des Princes.
They had started to hit back at PSG in the 53rd minute through Kevin Gameiro who made it 3-1 before the forward that caused the deflection for Mbappe’s goal, Ajorque, had the ball in the back of Les Parisiens net as well to balance out his ‘scoring’ for both sides in the 64th minute.
Pochettino would have despaired to see his players seemingly become complacent with the belief that at 3-0, the job was done but Strasbourg did very well to take every chance to gain a foothold especially in the second half. They very nearly succeeded until they were short by the red card to Djiku which was a tough disadvantage to be in against Les Parisiens.
The scoreline was flattering but not undeserving and it is encouraging for the hosts as they are due to welcome either or both of Messi and Neymar when they take a trip to Brest for their next tie. Strasbourg are home to Troyes next Sunday.