Lionel Messi dazzled as Paris Saint-Germain dismantled rivals Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 at the Groupama Stadium to go two points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
PSG dominated the early proceedings and went a goal ahead after just five minutes courtesy of a magnificent strike from Messi – his fifth of the season.
The second half saw Messi almost double his tally, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner saw his dinked attempt heroically cleared off the line by Castello Lukeba.
It is Lyon’s third straight league defeat – their worst run in Ligue 1 in four years – and will likely see the scrutiny on manager Peter Bosz intensify over the international break.
The three points see PSG consolidate their position at the top of Ligue 1 while Lyon, who at the start of the season were much fancied to challenge for the title, now languish in sixth, nine points from the summit.
TALKING POINT – HOW MUCH LONGER WILL PETER BOSZ LAST?
It’s sacking season. The September international break tends to be a time when the more brash trigger-happy owners make changes in the dugout and if you were Bosz you would be worried.
Lyon had been widely tipped as the team to run PSG close this season, but a third defeat on the bounce has seen their prospective title challenge all-but extinguished before the September international break.
The raucous Lyon support made their feelings known on the matter, booing Bosz’s decision to take off Karl Toko Ekambi for Bradley Barcola in the final minutes of the game.
Meanwhile the Gones hierarchy, who stuck with Bosz over the summer despite the club finishing a disappointing eighth last season, have also been vocal on the matter this week..
In the week Lyon sporting director Vincent Ponsot told Le Progres: “We hear the criticism, and we can understand it, but our approach is to the medium and long term. Despite how things went last season, we analysed things and decided to keep Peter, and we were convinced of our decision.
“However, there are now demands on Peter to get results, because we have changed the squad and the mindset, lots of things have been done with his agreement. We think we have everything in place to do well.”
Bosz may be lucky to still be in a job past the international break.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – LIONEL MESSI
The sky is blue. Water is wet. Messi is good. Though the Argentine’s powers have waned slightly in the past few years he remains a wonderful footballer.
Messi was in complete control in the first half, often taking up the quarterback position and dictating play.
He also took his goal brilliantly, completing a wonderful passing move with a side-footed shot from the edge of the area for his first goal.
Messi could have had a hat-trick, if it wasn’t for a brilliant off-the-line clearance by Lyon defender Lukeba, and a wonderful save from Anthony Lopes in the dying embers of the game.
The 35-year-old has now managed five goals and eight assists across his last nine appearances for PSG.
Lyon: Lopes – 9, Tagliafico – 6, Lukeba – 7, Mendes – 7, Gusto – 7, Caqueret – 7, Tolisso – 6, Toko Ekambi – 7, Dembele – 6, Lacazette – 7, Tete – 7
Subs: Reine-Adelaide – 6, Lepenant – 6, Cherki – 7, Barcola – 8
PSG: Donnarumma – 6, Hakimi – 7, Ramos – 7, Marquinhos – 7, Mendes – 7, Verratti – 7, Ruiz Pena – 7, Pereira – 7, Mbappe – 7, Neymar – 8, Messi – 9
Subs: Mukiele Mulere – 6, Vitinha – 7, Soler Barragan – 6
4’ – Goal! (Messi) – Neymar and Messi linked up brilliantly on the edge of the box, before the Argentine side-footed a wonderful curved effort beyond Lopes and into the bottom corner.
21’ – Alexandre Lacazette miss – Corentin Tolisso whipped in a wonderful cross into the box that was met by Lacazette, who had ghosted between Danilo Pereira and Nuno Mendes, but his header from close range flew just wide of the near post.
47’ – Off the line – Messi received the ball in the six-yard box, sold Lopes with a dummy and then lobbed the ball over the helpless ‘keeper, however Lukeba was on hand to clear off the line.
72’ Lopes save – PSG full back Mendes cut back a low cross to Neymar who from point-blank range tried to stroke the ball home, however Lopes instinctively threw himself at the ball and made the save.
77’ Messi miss – Messi had another chance to double his tally and the lead, when he got on the end of a cross and side footed a shot towards the bottom corner, however Lopes once again did well on the stretch to tip the ball out for a corner.
90+1’ Messi free-kick – Messi’s free-kick flew over the wall and was heading into the top corner, only for Lopes to tip the ball onto the bar. Sergio Ramos then bundled the ball into an empty net from close range, but was flagged for offside.