Troyes 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain: Hakimi on target as rapid double clinches opening win

By Sports Desk August 07, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain kicked off their Ligue 1 campaign with a 2-1 victory despite suffering an early scare against Troyes.

Oualid El Hajjam's ninth-minute header had the hosts on top but their delight was cut short 10 minutes later when Achraf Hakimi smashed in a first goal for his new club.

Mauro Icardi doubled the blow two minutes later with what proved to be the winner, poking past goalkeeper Gauthier Gallon after good work by Kylian Mbappe.

Amid speculation over the possible arrival of Lionel Messi in Paris, Mauricio Pochettino's side started positively on the field as they look to recapture a Ligue 1 crown which they have claimed in seven of the past nine seasons.

Thilo Kehrer's last-ditch intervention made amends for centre-back partner Presnel Kimpembe's early mistake as Troyes threatened, though PSG did not escape so lightly from the resulting corner. El Hajjam greeted Dylan Chambost's inswinging delivery as the centre-back nodded past Keylor Navas.

Ander Herrera sent a rising effort into the side netting but shortly after Hakimi restored parity, powering onto Herrera's pass before blasting a right-footed volley into the roof of the net.

Things rapidly worsened for the hosts when Icardi added a second, the forward prodding home after Mbappe's cutback found his team-mate inside the area.

Mbappe thought he had scored himself when he rounded Gallon and curled towards goal, only to be denied by Jimmy Giraudon's goal-line clearance.

Renaud Ripart induced a smart reflex save from Navas to keep out a drilled strike that seemed destined for the net, while Mama Balde's audacious acrobatics had the PSG goalkeeper scrambling after the break.

Back-to-back opportunities followed for the away side to finish the game off but neither went in, Icardi flicking a header wide and Mbappe bending a shot narrowly over the crossbar.

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    Lionel Messi will extend his contract with Paris Saint-Germain after the World Cup, according to president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

    The Argentina superstar is out of contract at the end of the season and it has been reported during the tournament in Qatar that he had already agreed to terms to move to MLS, where he would join Inter Miami.

    Those links have since been downplayed, however, with Messi not set to make a decision on his future until after the World Cup, where Argentina are preparing for a quarter-final showdown against the Netherlands.

    Al-Khelaifi is optimistic his two-year spell at Parc des Princes will be extended as, when suggested by Sky Sports that Messi wants to stay in the French capital for longer, he said: "Definitely. He's very happy, you can see that with the national team.

    "If a player's not happy you will see their performance is not good for the national team. He performed fantastic this season for us, he's scored a lot of goals and assists for the national team and for the club.

    "So, what we agreed together – that after the World Cup, sit down together. But both sides – our side of the club and him – are very happy, so we will talk after the World Cup."

    Another player who could be a topic of discussion for PSG after the conclusion of the action in Qatar is England forward Marcus Rashford, who has scored three goals for Gareth Southgate's side in the tournament.

    Rashford's contract at Old Trafford is due to expire at the end of the season, though Manchester United have an option to extend for a further year, and Al-Khelaifi confirmed the French champions would look to revive their interest in such a scenario.

    "He's another player that is really amazing. And for free? To have Rashford for free, every club would run after him, definitely," he added.

    "We're not hiding it, we spoke before and [there was] interest. But the moment was not a good moment for both sides. Maybe, at the end of the season, why not?

    "Today if he's a free agent of course we can talk to him directly, but we are not going to talk to him now. Let him focus on the World Cup. Then in January, hopefully, if we're interested we will talk to him."

  • French elite have tried and failed to stop Mbappe, so Fofana questions why Walker should be any different French elite have tried and failed to stop Mbappe, so Fofana questions why Walker should be any different

    France are struggling to see how Kyle Walker will stop Kylian Mbappe running rampant in Saturday's World Cup showdown with England.

    The tussle down the French left has been characterised as the key battleground ahead of the quarter-final at Al Bayt Stadium.

    Mbappe's electric pace, sublime dribbling skills and eye for goal have made him the standout player at the finals so far, and the leading scorer with five goals.

    Manchester City right-back Walker is the oldest player in the England squad, but the 32-year-old is also said to be the quickest. As such, it falls kindly for manager Gareth Southgate that Walker should naturally be the man to keep an eye on Mbappe.

    Walker said on Wednesday that stopping Mbappe will be "easier said than done", but he added: "I'm not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score."

    France defender Youssouf Fofana will reluctantly applaud Walker if he keeps Mbappe quiet.

    He pointed to French Ligue 1 clubs having previously all set out with game plans to handle the Paris Saint-Germain frontman, only to have those blown out of the water by the 23-year-old's sheer brilliance.

    "It's all to his credit if he knows how to stop Kylian, but 19 other teams in Ligue 1 are still waiting for the solution," Fofana said at a France press conference on Thursday.

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    Fofana described England and France as being "quite close in terms of culture" and said Southgate's side possessed "incredible" individuals.

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    Declan Rice is fit to play for England against France in their World Cup quarter-final, Three Lions team-mate Kalvin Phillips confirmed.

    Rice missed England's training session on Wednesday because of illness, sparking fears over his ability to play against the reigning world champions on Saturday.

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    "I believe Dec [Rice] is fit," Phillips told reporters at his pre-match news conference. "He's back in training and he's fine."

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    Another reason for Phillips' limited time on the pitch has been the emergence of 19-year-old Jude Bellingham, who has been widely praised for his excellent tournament displays at such a young age.

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    "I am still enjoying it. I am still having loads of fun," Phillips explained. "I'm not playing as much, which can be frustrating, but if you look at the players playing ahead of me and how well they are doing, I can't really argue.

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