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Messi muted as 10-man PSG draw with Ma**ei*le

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 00:00 | By
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) fights for the ball with Marseille’s French midfielder Dimitri Payet during the French L1 football match at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, southern France, on October 24, 2021. Photo/AFP

Paris, Monday

Lionel Messi was kept quiet as 10-man Paris Saint-Germain settled for a 0-0 draw with bitter rivals Marseille in a heated atmosphere in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

The meeting of French football’s biggest rivals was briefly held up on more than one occasion as objects were thrown from the stands when PSG players went to take corner kicks.

There was another interruption in the second half when one young man invaded the pitch and approached Messi before being escorted off by a legion of security staff.

It was that sort of night for PSG, who could not get into their stride and were reduced to 10 men when Achraf Hakimi was sent off in the second half following a VAR review for a last-man challenge on Cengiz Under just outside the box.

The game was also marked by two goals that were disallowed in the first half for tight VAR offside decisions, one an own-goal by Marseille defender Luan Peres and another at the opposite end from Arkadiusz Milik.

It is a perfectly acceptable result for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who have lost just one of their opening 11 matches in Ligue 1 and are seven points clear at the top from Lens in second.

However, the performance of PSG’s attacking superstars will again come in for scrutiny.

Pochettino selected Messi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria in a line of three behind Kylian Mbappe but that quartet was kept quiet for most of the game by a hard-working Marseille side.

Messi was coming up against Jorge Sampaoli, who coached the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at the 2018 World Cup when in charge of Argentine, and who is now on the Marseille bench.

The former Barcelona man scored twice for the Qatar-owned club in their 3-2 midweek win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League, but here he rarely looked finding the net.

A close-range header that was tipped over by home goalkeeper Pau Lopez in the first half was the closest Messi came.

All of his three goals in a PSG shirt have come in the Champions League, while he is yet to score in the French league, even if this was just his fourth Ligue 1 appearance.

The visitors, who were deprived of any travelling support amid concerns about potential crowd disorder, thought they had gone in front in the 14th minute. - AFP

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