Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Neymar, Lionel Messi secure Champions Trophy for PSG on Christophe Galtier debut

Champions Trophy
Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Nantes in the French Champions' Trophy final at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday. — AFP photo

TEL AVIV, August 1: Neymar scored twice with Lionel Messi also on target as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Nantes 4-0 in the Champions Trophy in Tel Aviv on Sunday in new coach Christophe Galtier’s first match in charge.
After an underwhelming first season in French football, Messi struck 22 minutes into the traditional curtain-raiser, being played in Israel for the second year in a row.
Neymar, whose future at the club has been the source of much speculation this summer, doubled the lead just before the break with a magnificent free-kick.
Sergio Ramos added a third and Neymar bagged his second late on from the penalty spot as PSG, the reigning Ligue 1 champions, eased to victory over last season’s French Cup winners.
It is the ninth time in 10 seasons PSG have lifted the Champions Trophy. They lost 1-0 to Lille at the same venue a year ago.
Galtier became PSG’s seventh different manager since the Qatari takeover of 2011 when he was appointed on a two-year deal in early July as the replacement for Mauricio Pochettino.
The club won a protracted battle with Real Madrid in May to convince Kylian Mbappe to stay, but Galtier was without the France star for his first official match due to suspension.
Pablo Sarabia, on loan at Sporting Lisbon last term, took Mbappe’s place in the attack alongside Messi and Neymar, while Portugal midfielder Vitinha made his debut following his arrival from Porto.
Achraf Hakimi forced Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont into an early stop and Sarabia went close before PSG captain Marquinhos headed against the crossbar.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, confirmed as PSG’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Keylor Navas, turned away a Ludovic Blas effort, but Neymar and Messi soon combined to break the deadlock.
The Brazilian’s deflected pass rolled kindly towards Messi and the Argentine nonchalantly rounded Lafont to apply the finishing touch.
Lafont denied Messi a second but was left powerless minutes later as Neymar whipped a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner.
Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare got the better of Galtier in the French Cup three months ago but found his former club in unforgiving mood here.
Ramos, who also endured a tough first year in Paris beset by injury, back-heeled home a third goal on 57 minutes after Lafont could only parry Sarabia’s low cross.
France defender Nordi Mukiele came on in the closing stages for his PSG debut after arriving from RB Leipzig this week on a five-year deal.
And Neymar, having made no secret of his desire to stay at PSG, completed the rout with a penalty eight minutes from the end after Jean-Charles Castelletto was sent off for hauling him down inside the area. (AFP)