Football

Angel Di Maria lifts PSG to 2-1 win over Ligue 1 champions Lille

Lionel Messi was substituted at halftime and could only watch as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat Lille with two second-half goals and countryman Angel Di Maria providing the winner at the Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi was substituted at halftime and could only watch as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat Lille with two second-half goals and countryman Angel Di Maria providing the winner at the Parc des Princes.

Lille started confidently, firing a warning shot with just two minutes on the clock when Burak Yilmaz was played through only to be denied by a superb Gianluigi Donnarumma stop.

Lille’s aggressive approach paid off in the 31st minute as Jonathan David finished a sensational team move assisted by Yilmaz’s cut-back. David’s eighth goal of the season put the game in Lille’s favour at halftime, with PSG justifiably trailing following a poor first-half display.

Angel Di Maria – on for the injured Kylian Mbappe – had the clearest chance for the hosts in that first period, but his lobbed attempt went just wide of the far post.

Mauricio Pochettino made the bold decision to replace Messi with Mauro Icardi at halftime, after a worryingly poor performance of the 34-year-old.

Lille came close to extending their lead after the interval, but it did not result in an immediate improvement. PSG once again had Donnarumma to thank, as he got a big hand to Yilmaz’s lob, leaving David with no choice but to rocket over on the follow-up.

PSG, however, were spurred by Di Maria’s brilliance, and the Argentine’s pass found Marquinhos for the equaliser in the 74th minute, setting the fixture up for a frantic finish.

With barely two minutes of regulation time to go, Di Maria took matters into his own hands, playing a lovely one-two with Neymar before scoring with a lovely stroke of the left boot to make it 2-1 to PSG.

Messi was out of sorts for the duration of the first period and, coupled with the pain he had been dealing with prior to the tie, did not return to the game after the break. However, it is undeniable that PSG performed significantly better in his absence.

Pochettino’s side pushed the ball higher up the ground and crammed more bodies into dangerous positions, and it was Messi’s compatriot Di Maria who lit up the Parc des Princes for a 30-minute spell.

It remains to be seen whether this is enough to keep the former Manchester United forward in the lineup, but he has certainly given Pochettino food for thought.

Pochettino’s side is now 10 points clear of the pursuing pack ahead of the weekend’s games, while Lille, the reigning champions, are still in 11th place.

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