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Messi cheered before PSG triumph over Strasbourg

Messi cheered before PSG triumph over Strasbourg

Lionel Messi smiled as he stood, apparently enraptured as Paris Saint-Germain fans chanted his name.

“Leo Messi, Leo Messi,” they intoned before Saturday’s game in the French league, a 4-2 win over Strasbourg.

The brand new PSG acquisition joined four other newcomers in a presentation to some 49,000 fans at the Parc des Princes stadium before kick-off.

Messi, just beginning his preseason training, did not take part in the match, in which PSG took a 3-0 lead, before Strasbourg moved closer to 3-2.

A late red card eased the pressure from the Paris team.

Also Argentine Mauro Icardi scored only after three minutes, Kylian Mbappé extended the account at 25 and sent a cross for German midfielder Julian Draxler to make it 3-0 at 27.

Once PSG striker Kevin Gameiro headed into the net for the visitors at 53. Forward Ludovic Ajorque delivered an even better header midway through the second period to make the score 3-2, unleashing some whistles from part of the public.

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But after Alexander Djiku was sent off at 82 to leave Strasbourg outnumbered, Mbappé supplied Spanish winger Pablo Sarabia for PSG’s fourth goal.

Messi witnessed everything from the stands, along with the Brazilian Neymar, with whom he has reunited after both won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015.

The Argentine has just returned from his vacation after helping Argentina win the Copa América. Although he is already training with PSG, he is not ready for matches yet.

In a scene few could have predicted even recently, former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos applauded Messi – his eternal rival from Barcelona and top scorer in the “Clásicos” between the two teams – when he joined him on the podium.

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Italy’s Euro goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Dutch captain Georginio Wijnaldum and former Inter Milan winger Achraf Hakimi also received standing ovations.

But nothing compared to the one reserved for Messi, four times winner of the Champions League and six times the Ballon d’Or.

The Argentine arrives at PSG on a two-year contract after his new deal with Barcelona collapsed precipitously the week before.

In another Saturday meeting, manager Christophe Galtier returned to Lille and punished his old club. Nice crushed the defending French league champions 4-0.

Forward Kasper Dolberg and midfielder Hichem Boudaoui scored in the first four minutes. Forward Amine Gouiri was involved in both plays.

Last weekend, Lille rallied from being down 3-1 to salvage a three-way tie, but this time there was no comeback, after Gouiri made it 3-0 with a penalty shortly before the break and Dolberg scored from head his second of the match in the middle of the complementary part.

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Last season Galtier’s excellent driving helped the surprising Lille win the title.

But Lille was unwilling to let him leave a year before the end of his contract and Nice had to pay 4 million euros ($ 4.7 million) in compensation.

That created tensions between Galtier and Lille President Olivier Letang.

The home fans celebrated the presentation of the league trophy before the game, but very soon the party was watered down when the visitors moved up 2-0 and things did not improve.

Marseille receives Bordeaux in the most outstanding duel this Sunday.

On Friday, Monaco fell 1-0 at home to Lorient.

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