Lionel Messi’s magical 95th-minute winner saves Paris Saint-Germain from the abyss

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With 10 minutes to go in one of the tightest matches of the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season, Paris Saint-Germain find themselves in a multifaceted crisis. Neymar was stretchered out and a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit, with the Parisian superclub’s grip on the domestic league suddenly loosened as their Champions League dreams were dashed.

Then Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi performed.

Almost two full months after dueling in a memorable World Cup final, they conspired to save Paris Saint-Germain and stop the downward spiral. Mbappe’s slip made it 3-3 with three minutes remaining in the 90 minutes. Then, in stoppage time, Messi won a free-kick and stepped up…

He was literally and figuratively alone, an unrivaled talent with the outcome of another game at his feet.

He saw Lille goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier cheating in the middle of goal and counted on the skillful dink
So Messi opted for the gap between Chevalier’s tentacles and his left post. The 35-year-old Argentine magician fired a free-kick over that post, clearing the Parc des Princes of darkness that had enveloped it.

Even on a sunny afternoon in Paris, dark clouds gathered just before Mbappe equalized at 3:20. PSG sporting director Luis Campos left his seat in the stands and ventured onto the pitch. French TV reporters have even speculated on who Paris Saint-Germain’s next boss will be – assuming the club will sack their current boss, Christophe Galtier. Its five-point lead over a league expected to win in Pot 2 is rapidly shrinking.

And his true ambitions, already dampened by a Champions League last-16 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich, could be further undermined by Neymar’s injury. After Sunday’s goals and assists
But Mbappe, and then Messi, replaced that sense of impending doom with excitement. Maybe it will be fleeting. Or maybe Sunday will be a turning point.

“En el fútbol,” enthused the commentator on BeIN Sports’ Spanish-language program, “todo es possible cuando en la cancha está el mejor del mundo.”

“Anything is possible in football when the best players in the world are on the pitch.”

With 10 minutes left in the most intense game of the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season, Paris Saint-Germain finds itself in a multifaceted crisis. Neymar was stretchered out and a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit, with the Parisian superclub’s grip on the domestic league suddenly loosened as their Champions League dreams were dashed.

Then Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi performed.

Almost two full months after dueling in a memorable World Cup final, they conspired to save Paris Saint-Germain and stop the downward spiral. Mbappe’s slip made it 3-3 with three minutes remaining in the 90 minutes.

He was literally and figuratively alone, an unrivaled talent with the outcome of another game at his feet.

He saw Lille goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier cheating in the middle of the goal, expecting a clever dink over the wall.

So Messi opted for the gap between Chevalier’s tentacles and his left post. The 35-year-old Argentine magician fired a free-kick over that post, clearing the Parc des Princes of darkness that had enveloped it.

Even on a sunny afternoon in Paris, dark clouds gathered just before Mbappe equalized at 3:20. PSG sporting director Luis Campos left his seat in the stands and ventured onto the pitch. French TV reporters have even speculated on who Paris Saint-Germain’s next boss will be – assuming the club will sack their current boss, Christophe Galtier. Its five-point lead over a league expected to win in Pot 2 is rapidly shrinking.
And his true ambitions, already dampened by a Champions League last-16 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich, could be further undermined by Neymar’s injury. After Sunday’s goals and assists, the Brazilian was taken off on a stretcher after half-time with what appeared to be an ankle injury. (The second leg with Bayern Munich is on March 8.)

But Mbappe, and then Messi, replaced that sense of impending doom with excitement. Maybe it will be fleeting. Or maybe Sunday will be a turning point.

“En el fútbol,” enthused the commentator on BeIN Sports’ Spanish-language program, “todo es possible cuando en la cancha está el mejor del mundo.”

“Anything is possible in football when the best players in the world are on the pitch.”

Lionel Messi scored from a 95th-minute free-kick as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 4-3 in a dramatic 4-3 upside-down Ligue 1 classic at the Parc des Princes this afternoon.

The home side surged into an early 2-0 lead as they looked to end a run of three straight defeats in all competitions, with the fit-again Kylian Mbappe and Neymar getting on the scoresheet despite a bright start from Lille.

Things soon started going wrong for Christophe Galtier against the team he guided to the title in 2020-21, though, with Lille turning the game on its head to take a 3-2 advantage and PSG also losing Nuno Mendes and Neymar to injuries, the latter being stretchered off.

With pressure beginning to grow, though, Galtier’s two main men stepped up to the plate as Mbappe made it 3-3 before Messi stole the headlines off his teammate with the winning free kick five minutes into stoppage time.

The result temporarily lifts PSG eight points clear at the top of the table, and perhaps more importantly ends a poor run of form which had seen them lose three times in three different competitions in the space of a week.

The home side, who had hammered Lille 7-1 in the reverse fixture between the last two champions of Ligue 1, looked as though they could threaten a repeat of that chastening scoreline when they raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 17 minutes.

The returning Mbappe got the first of those with a brilliant solo effort after 11 minutes, when he cut inside from the left and skipped between two defenders before steering the ball past the keeper – a move which saw Lille skipper Jose Fonte injured in the process.

Neymar joined his strike partner on the scoresheet just six minutes later when he turned the ball into an empty net after a one-two with Vitinha, who managed to smuggle the ball back to him ahead of Lucas Chevalier.

However, that two-goal advantage flattered the home side, with Lille looking an omnipresent threat – Timothy Weah threatened with an effort inside the opening minute, and Gianluigi Donnarumma was needed to deny Jonathan David headers on two occasions.

Messi had also come close at the other end before the deadlock was broken, but Lille’s first of the afternoon was certainly not against the run of play when Bafode Diakite glanced a header into the corner.

There was more bad news for the champions with Nuno Mendes limping off in the first half, and Neymar’s withdrawal on a stretcher added a major further blow with a Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich on the horizon.

That misery was only compounded when Lille levelled things up before the hour mark, although PSG could feel justifiably upset with the controversial decision to penalise Marco Verratti for an apparent pull in the box off the ball from a corner.