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Mauricio Pochettino defends Lionel Messi substitution after handshake snub in last-gasp PSG win over Lyon

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Lionel Messi could not hide his frustration after being substituted during Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 clash against Lyon.

The Argentine superstar - a high-profile summer arrival following that shock exit from Barcelona - made his first League start for PSG at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night, having previously appeared as a substitute against Reims before the international break and then played the full 90 minutes in the disappointing midweek Champions League draw with Club Brugge.

However, Messi could not open his goalscoring account for his new club despite hitting the woodwork from a free-kick and was replaced 14 minutes from time as compatriot Mauricio Pochettino instead sent on another summer signing in the shape of Moroccan wing-back Achraf Hakimi.

Pochettino also later called for fellow substitutes Mauro Icardi and Georginio Wijnaldum, with the former’s introduction paying off handsomely as he netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner in the French capital after Neymar’s penalty had initially cancelled out Lucas Paqueta’s opener.

Messi was visibly unhappy about being hauled off on his home debut and even appeared to snub the offer of a handshake from Pochettino as he trudged away to the bench.

Defending his decision to replace the six-time Ballon d’Or winner after the full-time whistle on Sunday, Pochettino said: "Everyone knows we have great players in the squad, we have 35 players. But we must make decisions for the good of the team. Sometimes they lead to a positive result and sometimes not.

“These are decisions we need to take. Sometimes it pleases people, or it doesn't. I asked him how he was, and he said he was fine."

Lionel Messi looked frustrated with PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino after his substitution against Lyon (Getty Images)
Lionel Messi looked frustrated with PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino after his substitution against Lyon (Getty Images)

Star-studded PSG’s late triumph over Lyon means they have now won all six of their opening Ligue 1 matches in 2021/22 and sit top of the table, five points clear of Marseille, who have a game in hand.

Messi will have another chance to register his first goal in French football at bottom club Metz on Wednesday night before Pochettino’s side host Montpellier ahead of a Champions League showdown with Manchester City.

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