Lionel Messi celebrated his return to Paris Saint-Germain with a goal in his first match since lifting the World Cup.
The 35-year-old only returned to training at the start of the year after taking some time off to celebrate and recover after Qatar 2022, where he finally lifted the trophy that had always eluded him at the one of the greatest finals of all time.
But the forward didn’t appear to be suffering from a hangover when he returned to action with a close-range goal in PSG’s 2-0 win over Angers on Wednesday.
Messi also paid tribute to Pele before the game, joining his teammates in wearing a t-shirt with the Brazilian’s face on it during the warm-up.
PSG are comfortably top of the league despite Christophe Galtier having to switch sides as he brings players back after the World Cup.
Kylian Mbappé, a defeated runner-up in Qatar, rested for Wednesday’s game, allowing players like youngster Hugo Ekitiké to get playing time.
The 20-year-old striker has impressed when given the chance this season and opened the scoring with a blistering first-half finish.
Messi, who came into the attack alongside Neymar Jr., then doubled the lead in the 72nd minute after a well-timed run and right-footed finish.
The linesman initially signaled offside, but the virtual assistant referee (VAR) overruled the call and the goal was awarded.
Victory on Messi’s return is good news for PSG, who lost in the league for the first time this season last week, 3-1 at Lens.
“Yes, it was very important to get back to winning ways. We have rivals who are pushing hard,” Galtier told PSGTV after the game.
“We knew we were going to have a difficult match because Angers is a team that plays good football and poses big problems tactically.
“I also insist on the fact that the situation – post-World Cup – means that we had a lot of players absent, that the group was very dispersed and that, little by little, everyone is coming back and reconnecting. ”
PSG, who are six points clear of the top of the table, will face Rennes in their next game on Sunday.