Lionel Messi celebrate with Ander Herrera after the midfielder's opener
Lionel Messi celebrates with Ander Herrera after the midfielder’s opening goal

Lionel Messi’s main task at Paris St-Germain will be to help deliver an elusive Champions League, but for all the fanfare surrounding the Argentina star’s first start it proved a frustrating evening as the club began their European campaign with a draw at Club Bruges.

Messi struck the crossbar but struggled to make a serious impact on his full debut and it was instead Ander Herrera who netted the opener after great work down the left from Kylian Mbappe.

Hans Vanaken scored a deserved equaliser before the break to get the 29,000-seater Jan Breydel Stadium rocking.

Messi was carded for a second-half foul and Mbappe replaced after 51 minutes as PSG found it difficult to break down the energetic hosts, who may feel they could have won the game themselves.

PSG struggled to deal with the home side’s aggressive pressing throughout and needed goalkeeper Keylor Navas to tip Charles de Ketelaere’s well-struck effort over the crossbar to keep them level.

Messi began to find more space as the Belgian side tired late on but the 34-year-old was unable to unpick the Bruges defence, leaving boss Mauricio Pochettino to ponder how to get the best out of his all-star front three.

“We need time to work for them to build an understanding,” said Pochettino. “That’s been clear and we’ve said that in recent days. We still have to create a team.”

PSG’s blockbuster cast struggle to shine

Neymar, Mbappe and Messi
Neymar, Mbappe and Messi started a game together for the first time

This was Messi’s 150th appearance in the competition and, for a player so synonymous with Barcelona, it felt surreal seeing him line-up for the first time in Europe in the white away strip of PSG.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner arrives in Paris to complete a lavishly-assembled forward line including Neymar and Mbappe that will be expected to bring much-desired European success to the French capital.

Things started smoothly as Mbappe teed up Herrera for his first Champions League goal – though it was his fourth of the season in all competitions for PSG – before the blockbuster cast was split up when the French forward had to be replaced early in the second half.

PSG fans have so far had to watch their new number 30 from afar, with Messi’s only previous appearance since signing for the club coming as a substitute away at Reims in Ligue 1.

Coincidentally, 30 was the number donned by Messi when he was handed his Champions League debut for Barcelona by Frank Rijkaard as a shaggy-haired 17-year-old in December 2004, a game that saw the already-qualified visitors lose 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Seventeen glittering years later – and though the legs may not be as fresh – the diminutive 34-year-old boasts the same crispness of thought and magnetic touch that led Ronaldinho – once a PSG star himself – to declare Messi his heir at the Camp Nou.

The ‘Little Flea’ has since collected four European titles, 10 La Ligas and most recently a Copa America to go with his individual accolades, but that did not make life any easier for Messi and PSG in their opening Group A match against Bruges.

Messi first burst into life on the edge of the Bruges area after 22 minutes, jinking into space and sliding a pass through to Mbappe, who saw his effort palmed away, and soon after the Argentine came within inches of his first PSG goal after curling an effort against the crossbar.

But those moments of customary magic came either side of a deserved leveller for the hosts, with captain Vanaken arriving late to steer in Eduard Sobol’s cross.

No player has netted more Champions League goals for one club than Messi’s 120 for Barcelona and with 20 minutes remaining he went close to opening his account for Paris St-Germain when he tested goalkeeper Simon Mignolet with a left-footed strike.

Messi picked up a booking for a mistimed tackle, and he and Neymar, who last won the Champions League together in 2015, were well dealt with by the Belgian champions’ backline, with Scotland defender Jack Hendry putting in a particularly impressive performance.

The final whistle was met by roars from the home crowd, who continued to celebrate as Oasis tracks were belted out over the stadium tannoy on a memorable night for the club.

Player of the match

HendryJack Hendry

with an average of 8.60

Club Bruges

  1. Squad number5Player nameHendry

    Average rating


  2. Squad number20Player nameVanaken

    Average rating


  3. Squad number90Player nameDe Ketelaere

    Average rating


  4. Squad number10Player nameLang

    Average rating


  5. Squad number3Player nameBalanta

    Average rating


  6. Squad number19Player nameSowah

    Average rating


  7. Squad number2Player nameSobol

    Average rating


  8. Squad number26Player nameRits

    Average rating


  9. Squad number77Player nameClinton Mata

    Average rating


  10. Squad number4Player nameN’Soki

    Average rating


  11. Squad number22Player nameMignolet

    Average rating


  12. Squad number11Player nameMaouassa

    Average rating


Paris Saint Germain

  1. Squad number30Player nameMessi

    Average rating


  2. Squad number21Player nameHerrera

    Average rating


  3. Squad number7Player nameMbappé

    Average rating


  4. Squad number18Player nameWijnaldum

    Average rating


  5. Squad number1Player nameNavas

    Average rating


  6. Squad number2Player nameHakimi

    Average rating


  7. Squad number5Player nameMarquinhos

    Average rating


  8. Squad number3Player nameKimpembe

    Average rating


  9. Squad number8Player nameParedes

    Average rating


  10. Squad number25Player nameNuno Mendes

    Average rating


  11. Squad number10Player nameNeymar

    Average rating


  12. Squad number22Player nameDiallo

    Average rating


  13. Squad number23Player nameDraxler

    Average rating


  14. Squad number15Player nameDanilo Pereira

    Average rating


  15. Squad number9Player nameIcardi

    Average rating



Club Bruges

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 22Mignolet
  • 77Mata Pedro Lourenco
  • 5Hendry
  • 4N’Soki
  • 2Sobol
  • 19SowahSubstituted forMaouassaat 90+2′minutes
  • 26Rits
  • 3BalantaBooked at 76mins
  • 10LangBooked at 62mins
  • 20Vanaken
  • 90De Ketelaere


  • 7Wesley
  • 11Maouassa
  • 16Persyn
  • 25Vormer
  • 28van der Brempt
  • 29Dost
  • 44Mechele
  • 72Mbamba-Muanda
  • 91Lammens


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Navas
  • 2Hakimi
  • 5Marquinhos
  • 3Kimpembe
  • 22DialloSubstituted forTavares Mendesat 75′minutes
  • 21Herrera
  • 8ParedesBooked at 12minsSubstituted forDaniloat 45′minutes
  • 18WijnaldumSubstituted forDraxlerat 45′minutes
  • 30MessiBooked at 72mins
  • 7MbappéSubstituted forIcardiat 51′minutes
  • 10Neymar


  • 9Icardi
  • 15Danilo
  • 23Draxler
  • 24Kehrer
  • 25Tavares Mendes
  • 28Ebimbe
  • 31Bitshiabu
  • 32Alloh
  • 39Bitumazala
  • 50G Donnarumma
  • 60Letellier

Sandro Schärer


Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Club Brugge 1, Paris Saint Germain 1.

  2. Second Half ends, Club Brugge 1, Paris Saint Germain 1.

  3. Substitution, Club Brugge. Faitout Maouassa replaces Kamal Sowah.

  4. Attempt missed. Noa Lang (Club Brugge) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a fast break.

  5. Corner, Paris Saint Germain. Conceded by Clinton Mata.

  6. Offside, Club Brugge. Mats Rits tries a through ball, but Noa Lang is caught offside.

  7. Corner, Club Brugge. Conceded by Presnel Kimpembe.

  8. Offside, Paris Saint Germain. Lionel Messi tries a through ball, but Mauro Icardi is caught offside.

  9. Offside, Paris Saint Germain. Lionel Messi tries a through ball, but Mauro Icardi is caught offside.

  10. Foul by Neymar (Paris Saint Germain).

  11. Stanley N’Soki (Club Brugge) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Attempt missed. Mauro Icardi (Paris Saint Germain) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Nuno Mendes with a cross.

  13. Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint Germain) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Nuno Mendes.

  14. Offside, Paris Saint Germain. Lionel Messi tries a through ball, but Mauro Icardi is caught offside.

  15. Éder Balanta (Club Brugge) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  16. Neymar (Paris Saint Germain) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  17. Foul by Éder Balanta (Club Brugge).

  18. Substitution, Paris Saint Germain. Nuno Mendes replaces Abdou Diallo.

  19. Attempt missed. Noa Lang (Club Brugge) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Charles De Ketelaere.

  20. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint Germain) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - SoundsSource: BBC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *