Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time free-kick as he and Kylian Mbappe came to Paris Saint-Germain’s rescue in a pulsating 4-3 victory over Lille.
PSG’s prospects looked bleak when Jonathan Bamba’s stunner put Lille 3-2 up after Neymar had gone off on a stretcher with an ankle injury.
The Ligue 1 champions had seemed in control after 17 minutes of Sunday’s clash at Parc des Princes thanks to Mbappe and Neymar, only for Lille to deservedly haul themselves level through Bafode Diakite’s header and Jonathan David’s contentiously awarded penalty.
Yet Mbappe, who prodded home in the 87th minute to restore parity, paved the way for Messi to curl in a wonderful free-kick off the right-hand upright deep into the seven minutes of added time.
Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Lille twice in the opening 10 minutes, keeping out attempts from Timothy Weah and David.
Mbappe made PSG’s luck count, brilliantly finding a way through two defenders and sliding a finish under Lucas Chevalier, who was picking the ball out of his net again when Neymar side-footed home.
David saw a fine header saved and somehow blazed the rebound over but Lille had the goal they deserved when Diakite nodded in from Andre Gomes’ cross.
PSG’s attempts to reassert their dominance after the break were hindered by Neymar’s injury, sustained in a challenge with Benjamin Andre.
Their frustrations were compounded when referee Willy Delajod judged Marco Verratti to have fouled Tiago Djalo from a corner, and David put away the penalty.
The turnaround was complete 11 minutes later – Bamba catching Donnarumma out with a sumptuous effort – but Mbappe was on hand to haul PSG level.
Messi had the final say, his sublime free-kick clipping in off the post to snatch a memorable and much-needed victory.
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The last time PSG lost at home in Ligue 1 before this game was back in April 2021, when a Lille team coached by Christophe Galtier won 1-0 on their way to sealing the title.
PSG thrashed their coach’s former club 7-1 in the reverse fixture in August but looked for all the world to be down and out when Bamba put Lille – who had 16 shots to their hosts’ 12 and accumulated a slightly better expected goals (2.54 to 2.34) – in front.
Yet with superstars like Mbappe and Messi on the pitch, PSG cannot be ruled out, and that superstar duo ensured Galtier’s team have some breathing space at the top of the table, ending their losing streak at three matches.
Messi the man for the big moment
In truth, Messi had not done much. He had a shot saved early on – although even if it had gone in, he would surely have had his goal ruled out for offside – but otherwise had been kept relatively under wraps until late on.
Yet with Mbappe having dragged PSG out of the mud yet again, Messi was able to add the finishing touch with his exquisite free-kick, which according to Opta’s xG model had just a nine per cent chance of finding the back of the net.
Death, taxes and a Neymar injury when the Champions League is back
PSG trail Bayern Munich 1-0 in their last-16 tie and will now face an anxious wait on Neymar’s fitness ahead of the second leg at Allianz Arena on March 8.
Things had started so well for the Brazilian, who teed up Mbappe’s opener and then got himself on the scoresheet. Neymar has now assisted the France striker 17 times in Ligue 1, the joint-highest tally of assists from one player to another, along with former PSG stars Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani, since Opta began collecting such data back in the 2006-07 campaign.
– The two league matches between PSG and Lille this season have seen 15 goals, which is the joint-most goals across a double-header in the same campaign in the 21st century -(level with Guingamp-Lorient in 2001-02).
– PSG have not lost any of the four games in which they have conceded three or more goals at home in Ligue 1 under their Qatari ownership after losing each of the previous 32.
– Mbappe, Neymar and Messi scored in the same Ligue 1 game for only the fourth time.
– Mbappe has opened the scoring 36 times in Ligue 1 since joining PSG in September 2017, at least seven more than any other player in the top flight over the period. He has been involved in 14 goals against Lille in Ligue 1.
– Neymar has scored and delivered an assist in the same league game for the fifth time this season, the highest tally in the top five European leagues.
There’s a small matter of a trip to Marseille, where they lost in the Coupe de France earlier this month, for La Classique up for PSG, while Lille host Brest.