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PSG 2-0 Manchester City: 'Pep Guardiola's side the latest victims of Lionel Messi'


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Manchester City's previous high-profile Champions League defeats have often been followed by forensic inquests into manager Pep Guardiola's over-thinking and how he sometimes defeats himself.

City's loss to Chelsea in last season's final was Exhibit A in this argument, a classic example of Guardiola attempting to fix something that was not broken as he went in without a holding midfielder - with expensive consequences.

In Paris on Tuesday, there was no need for any talk of over-complication, and there were no fingers pointed accusingly - this was a simple case of Guardiola and City falling victim to a little genius with an impeccable sense of timing.

Lionel Messi had made, by his own stellar standards, a low-key start since joining Paris St-Germain from Barcelona, but someone was always going to pay the price for that.

The Champions League is the stage Messi was acquired for. So it was with a sense of inevitability that he saved up his first goal for his biggest game so far, an encounter with his old Barcelona coach Guardiola.

And what a special goal it was.

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City were right in this Group A game, playing with poise and chasing an equaliser as they held possession in and around the PSG area, until the 74th minute - and the moment Paris had been waiting for.

Messi made one of those typical darting runs towards the area, actually starting from the halfway line, before playing in Kylian Mbappe, who delivered the deftest of touches back into his new team-mate's path.

With a sweep of his left foot and in a style that has characterised his quite brilliant career, the Argentine picked out a perfect finish high past the helpless, motionless Ederson.

He had been somewhat on the margins until he effectively decided the game - but how many times have we seen that? It is what the all-time greats do.

It felt like the moment when Messi truly announced his arrival as a PSG player. He now has 121 Champions League goals. Barcelona 120. PSG one.

And with Messi's classic intervention, an enthralling game was done. PSG's defensive blanket, typified by the magnificent Idrissa Gueye, who scored their first goal, continued to do its job and City were out of time.

There will be a constant narrative about City's lack of a recognised striker every time they draw a blank and there is no doubt they could have done with a ruthless edge here to capitalise on so much fine approach play.

Crosses fizzed around the area, Marquinhos got his head on almost everything as PSG defended with resilience while they waited for their megastars to strike, which Messi duly did.

City were not, however, out of chances. Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both hit the bar in a matter of seconds in the first half while PSG keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was busy throughout.

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