NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (Reuters) – Paris Saint-Germain increased their lead to six points in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 home win over Angers on Wednesday, and Lionel Messi marked his return to competitive action following the World Cup by scoring a second-half goal.
Messi scored from close range in the 72nd minute to add to Hugo Ekitike’s first-half opening and put PSG on 47 points after 18 games. Messi won the World Cup with Argentina.
Even though they maintained their second place, RC Lens surrendered two points after playing to a 2-2 draw against winless Racing Strasbourg.
With their 2-0 victory over Troyes, Olympique de Marseille moved into third place, two points behind Lens on 39 points.
“It was a much-needed victory that netted us three valuable points. Getting goals boosts my self-esteem, so I need to keep it up “”, Ekitike remarked.
Because of this, we can now forget about the Lens game, therefore everyone here is very relieved.
When PSG lost 3-1 at Lens in the last round of matches, it was their first loss of the season across all competitions, but they responded with greater composure on Wednesday.
Since Kylian Mbappe is still receiving some rest after his rapid return from the World Cup, the opportunity for Ekitike to get some playing time increased, and he capitalised by scoring off a Nordi Mukiele cross.
After the halftime, Mukiele was instrumental again as he threaded a pass through to Messi, allowing the Argentine striker to score with a close-range right-footed shot.
Messi was called offside, but the goal was permitted after a video assistant referee review.
Lens trailed 2-1 following an exciting first half at Strasbourg. Alexis Claude-Maurice scored the game’s first goal in the 11th minute, but Sanjin Prcic and Kevin Gameiro responded with goals of their own in the 13th and 16th minutes, respectively.
Lens were unable to add a third despite dominating play after Lois Openda tied the game in the 33rd minute with a powerful header, thanks to many saves from Strasbourg goalkeeper Matz Sels.
The goals scored by Chancel Mbemba and Jordan Veretout put Marseille in second place, just behind Lens.
Olympique Lyonnais maintained its disappointing season with a scoreless draw against Nantes, while Nice thrashed Montpellier, 6-1, on the road.