PARIS. — It was the moment the fans had really been waiting for ever since Lionel Messi was unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player nearly two months ago.
The Argentine had featured only fleetingly for his new club and had not scored a goal, but he chose his moment to get off the mark in Tuesday night’s heavyweight Champions League football clash with Manchester City.
It was a trademark strike by the Argentine that put PSG 2-0 up against Pep Guardiola’s side in the 74th minute, securing a victory that sends out a message to the rest of Europe, even this early in the season.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was having a quiet evening until he collected possession just inside the City half near the right touchline and scampered towards goal.
He held off Aymeric Laporte and played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe before sending a shot high into the net from just outside the box.
Guardiola — who has been on the receiving end of Messi’s magic before against Barcelona with Bayern Munich and with City — called his former pupil “unstoppable”.
“I don’t usually celebrate goals, but that one I did,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, who came up against Messi in Spain as coach of Espanyol.
“I have seen him score plenty of times before when I was on the opposition bench, so for once I was on the right bench and could celebrate.”
Messi left Barcelona as their all-time top scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, a record tally for one club.
Now he is up and running in Paris and the crowd at the Parc des Princes, who will not forget their evening, will hope it was just the first goal of many.
“It is true that I was becoming desperate to get my first goal,” Messi, who was making just his fourth appearance for Pochettino’s side, told Canal Plus.
The 34-year-old came to Paris with his sights firmly set on winning the Champions League, a trophy he last won with Barcelona in 2015.