Lionel Messi has made his much-anticipated Ligue 1 debut for Paris St Germain, but it was Kylian Mbappé who stole the show in a 2-0 victory at Reims.
- Lionel Messi’s name was chanted even by rival fans as he made his debut for PSG
- Messi came off the bench in the second half in PSG’s 2-0 win
- Kylian Mbappé scored twice, in what could be his last game for PSG if his rumoured move to Real Madrid is completed
Mbappé gave PSG a taste of what they would be missing if he left for Real Madrid, who have made bids to recruit the France striker since Messi joined on a two-year deal from Barcelona.
All 20,545 tickets available were sold at the Auguste Delaune Stadium to see 34-year-old Messi play, and the fans who chanted the Argentina forward’s name were rewarded in the 66th minute when he replaced the disappointing Neymar.
Mbappé put in a brilliant performance, seemingly unfazed by the transfer frenzy surrounding him.
Two days before the end of the window, the 22-year-old made the difference with his speed and sense of timing, opening the scoring with a header and rounding off with a clinical finish.
After a stuttering start, PSG got into their groove and Mbappé put them a head after 15 minutes by heading home from Angel Di Maria’s cross.
PSG somehow got too comfortable and Reims started to apply some pressure, with Moreto Cassama’s superb strike hitting Keylor Navas’s crossbar three minutes before the break.
Reims celebrated what they thought was a Marshall Munetsi equaliser five minutes into the second half, only for the Zimbabwean’s effort to be ruled out for offside.
Messi started to warm up after 57 minutes, drawing applause from the Reims supporters, whom he saluted.
They sang his name just when he was about to come on, shortly after Mbappé had doubled PSG’s advantage from Achraf Hakimi’s cross at the end of a sharp counter attack.
Mbappé combined with Messi, but the former Barcelona striker was not in the same condition as the Frenchman, having not played a competitive game since winning the Copa America with Argentina on July 10.