Messi resumes normalcy upon return
Lionel Messi scored in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over Angers in Ligue 1 on Wednesday on his first appearance since leading Argentina to victory in the 2022 World Cup.
The Argentina captain broke a bunch of age-old records in Qatar and the latest strike saw Messi bag 696 goals across his senior club career for Barcelona and PSG since debuting for the former in the 2004-05 season. Messi and Cristiano are now tied on the number of goals scored in Europe's top five leagues – featuring England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.
Messi's 24th goal for the Parisian side following his move from Barcelona in 2021 now places the 35-year-old five shy of Ronaldo's 701-goal tally in club football, which the 37-year-old Portuguese superstar netted during his illustrious career for Manchester United (118, and 27 in second spell there), Real Madrid (450), Juventus (101), and Sporting CP (5), where he kick-started his club-career in the 2002-03 season.
As the Portugal captain had said his "work is done" in Europe after being unveiled as a player of Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr earlier this month, Messi could soon be the second but the youngest in history to hit the 700 mark and then surpass Ronaldo in becoming the all-time highest scorer in club football.
The two had long been inseparable due to their outrageous and consistent performances, especially during their overlapping spells in Spanish League. However, despite remaining a continent apart, Ronaldo and Messi could soon be reunited on the pitch as PSG are slated for a friendly against a team made up of players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal in Riyadh on January 19.
Earlier, Messi had been rested for PSG's first three matches following the long break in the season caused by the World Cup but he returned to training in Paris a week ago and was back in the starting line-up for this game against Ligue 1's bottom side.
In the meantime, the absence of Kylian Mbappe meant that young striker Hugo Ekitike again started in the home attack at the Parc des Princes and he opened the scoring in the fifth minute from a Nordi Mukiele cross at the end of a move in which Messi also featured.
PSG were not at their sparkling best but Messi swept in his 13th club goal of the season to make it 2-0 with 17 minutes left. Ekitike and Mukiele were again involved before Messi applied the finish. The goal was initially disallowed for offside but a VAR check allowed it to stand.