Lionel Messi was presented to the crowd at a packed Parc des Princes on Saturday before watching his new team-mates beat RC Strasbourg Alsace 4-2 with Kylian Mbappé playing a starring role.
Paris Saint-Germain 4-2 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Messi ran out to a deafening roar from supporters who filled the stadium a full hour before kick-off as the Argentine and PSG’s other summer signings - Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi - were all presented to the faithful.
The Argentinian great is some way short of being ready to make his Paris debut, though, and so he watched the game itself from the stands alongside Neymar and Angel di María, who are also still working on their fitness after their involvement at the Copa América meant a late return to pre-season training.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also still without the likes of Marco Verratti and Marquinhos, and so his line-up here featured several players who are unlikely to be regulars this season, among them Thilo Kehrer and the 20-year-old Eric Junior Dina-Ebimbe.
Icardi stakes claim
Another player whose place this season is under threat is Mauro Icardi, but it was he who opened the scoring in the third minute as he stretched his neck muscles to meet Abdou Diallo’s cross from the left and send a header looping over goalkeeper Matz Sels and in.
Paris doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Strasbourg failed to fully clear a corner and Julian Draxler’s tackle handed the ball back to Mbappé. His shot then took a wicked deflection off Ludovic Ajorque and went in. Two minutes after that it was 3-0 as Mbappé held the ball up to the back post for Draxler to convert.
Strasbourg fight back
Strasbourg were heading for a second defeat in as many games this season but they put up a fight, with Kévin Gameiro heading in Adrien Thomasson’s cross to pull one back eight minutes into the second half. Mbappé then almost got a fourth for the hosts before Ajorque got in front of Presnel Kimpembe to head in Dimitri Liénard’s cross to make it 3-2 (64’).
The away side’s hopes of completing a remarkable comeback were effectively ended when centre-back Alexander Djiku was sent off nine minutes from the end as a foul on Icardi earned him a second yellow card. PSG then sealed the points when Mbappé burst in from the left and cut the ball back for Pablo Sarabia to score.
THE PLAYER: Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé, who has still not signed an extension to his contract which expires at the end of this season and has been continually linked with a move to Real Madrid, was jeered by some sections of the home support when his name was read out before kick-off. He responded by doing his talking on the pitch, setting up three of his team’s goals. He was unlucky not to get his own name on the scoresheet in a powerful performance as Neymar Jr. and Messi watched on from the stands.
THE STAT: 150
Mbappé was making his 150th Ligue 1 appearance. It was his 109th with Paris after he turned out 41 times with AS Monaco at the start of his career.>> TEAMSHEET