Messi scores stunner and Mbappe grabs winner to guide PSG top of Ligue 1

Champions defeat Nice 2-1 at Parc des Princes to lead Marseilled by two points at the top of the standings

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Lionel Messi scored a stunning free-kick and Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to score as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Nice 2-1 on Saturday to reclaim top spot in Ligue 1.

France international Mbappe was left out of the starting line-up by manager Christophe Galtier with one eye on Wednesday's Champions League clash at Benfica - one of 11 fixtures the French champions face in the six weeks leading up to the World Cup.

Mbappe was replaced in the starting line-up by 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike, who was making his first start for PSG but struggled to make an impact.

However, it was fellow superstar Messi who grabbed the attention when he gave PSG a 29th-minute lead with a sumptuous, curling free-kick which sailed over the Nice wall and past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

"I'm incredibly lucky to see him every morning in training," said Galtier of the Argentine.

It was Messi's 60th career goal from free-kicks but first in a PSG shirt.

Gaetan Laborde levelled for Nice, who were coached by Galtier until this season, in the 47th minute after PSG got into a terrible defensive tangle.

Mbappe was summoned from the bench on the hour mark and struck the winner with seven minutes left after Nice attempted and failed to play the ball out of defence.

The goal was Mbappe's eighth of the league season and took him level with teammate Neymar at the top of the scoring charts.

"We are not playing less well than we were, but our opponents are starting to know us," said PSG defender Marquinhos after a disjointed display by the champions.

"We are not going to have an exceptional match every time or win 5-0. It's important to know how to win 1-0 or 2-1 with a goal at the end, like tonight.

"It was complicated in the first half, we couldn't find any space to create chances. Nice blocked us but a superb free-kick Leo Messi unblocked the situation."

Nice manager Lucien Favre admitted he was frustrated that his team were left empty-handed.

"You play the best game of your season, but at the end, you lose," said Nice coach Lucien Favre after his team's fifth Ligue 1 defeat of the season.

"We played a good match, so it's disappointing and cruel. We didn't give PSG a lot of chances to score. They didn't have many chances."

PSG have a two-point lead over Marseille who defeated Angers 3-0 on Friday.

Updated: October 02, 2022, 8:13 AM
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