Messi suffers first PSG defeat in loss at Rennes

Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi is approached by a pitch invader after the match at Roazhon Park, Rennes, France October 3, 2021. — AFP pic
Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi is approached by a pitch invader after the match at Roazhon Park, Rennes, France October 3, 2021. — AFP pic

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PARIS, Oct 3 — Lionel Messi suffered his first defeat as a Paris Saint-Germain player today as their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season ended with a 2-0 loss at Rennes.

The Argentina star smacked the crossbar with a free-kick in the first half at Roazhon Park before Gaetan Laborde volleyed Rennes ahead just before the break with his league-leading sixth goal.

Flavien Tait struck less than 20 seconds after half-time to double the lead, with Kylian Mbappe seeing a goal ruled out for offside as Rennes snapped PSG’s eight-match winning run in the league this term.

“We didn’t start the match well but then we played the best 25-30 minutes of the season. It’s a shame we didn’t score. We conceded two goals that were hard to take,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

PSG lost in the league for the first time since April, when they were beaten 1-0 at home by last season’s eventual champions Lille.

“In general, I’m satisfied, we created a lot of chances. Rennes scored with their first and the goal had a big emotional impact,” said Pochettino.

“I don’t like to lose, there’s a bit of anger. To go 2-0 down after a good period... We’re disappointed not to have finished off what we had. It leaves us a bit bitter and disappointed.”

Messi lined up alongside Neymar, Mbappe and Angel Di Maria for just the second match, making only his second league start for PSG after missing the past two Ligue 1 games with a knee injury.

Gianluigi Donnarumma again got the nod ahead of Keylor Navas in goal, having kept a clean sheet midweek in PSG’s Champions League win over Manchester City.

Looking to keep pace with the team that won its opening 14 games under Thomas Tuchel in 2018, PSG created a series of chances midway through the first half—all of which went to waste.  

Woodwork denies Messi

Neymar skied horribly after the ball broke kindly to the Brazilian inside the Rennes area and Mbappe was guilty of another glaring miss when he scooped over after getting in behind the home defence.

Messi, who bagged a spectacular first goal PSG against City on Tuesday, nearly got off the mark in Ligue 1 but watched his curling free-kick from 25 yards clatter the bar on the half-hour.

Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis crucially stuck out a hand to deny Neymar a tap-in as Di Maria squared across the six-yard box, and PSG paid the price for their missed opportunities on the stroke of half-time.

Kamaldeen Sulemana whipped in a cross from the left which was thumped beyond Donnarumma by Laborde, a deadline day signing from Montpellier.

Rennes, who spent 80 million euros ($92.6 million) on new signings in the summer—more than anyone in France including PSG—caught the visitors cold right at the start of the second half to make it 2-0.

Laborde, released down the right, pulled back for Tait to sweep in first time—the goal upheld after a VAR check for offside, and greeted by a deafening roar from a full house of close to 30,000 once it was confirmed.

Sulemana fired a ferocious drive narrowly over but PSG appeared to have pulled one back when Mbappe squeezed beyond Gomis, only for it to be chalked off upon review.

It could have been worse for Pochettino’s side had a penalty awarded to Rennes not been overturned in the closing stages after replays exonerated Achraf Hakimi from a foul on Laborde.

Instead PSG, who stay six points clear of second-placed Lens, must now reset after the international break that will see Messi and Neymar jet off to South America for a gruelling series of three World Cup qualifiers.

Aurelien Tchouameni scored against his former club as Monaco beat Bordeaux 3-0 and Nantes won 2-0 at home to Troyes.

Angers twice came from behind to defeat Metz 3-2 while Lorient and Clermont drew 1-1.

Lille host Marseille later on Sunday before winless Saint-Etienne take on bitter derby rivals Lyon. — AFP

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