With 10 minutes remaining in the wildest game of the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season, PSG was spiraling into a multi-pronged crisis. With Neymar exiting on a stretcher, the Parisian superclub’s Champions League dream was already fading, and it was now losing its grip on its domestic league as well.
As a result, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi stepped forward to save PSG and halt the spiral. They did so almost exactly two months after they dueled in an unforgettable World Cup final. Mbappé’s slide finish tied the match at 3-3 with three minutes left. Then, deep into stoppage time, Messi won a free kick, stood over it, and.
As he stood alone, literally and figuratively, he saw Lille goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier cheating toward the middle of his goal, anticipating a deft dink over the wall.
On a delightfully sunny afternoon in Paris, moments before Mbappé’s equalizer, dark clouds loomed. PSG sporting director Luis Campos had ventured down to the pitch from his seat in the stands. In French television reports, it was speculated that PSG would fire its current manager, Christophe Galtier. A 5 point lead atop a league it expects to win in second gear was rapidly shrinking.
In the Champions League, a loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg hurts Barcelona’s true ambitions, and Neymar’s injury could further damage them. After scoring and assisting on Sunday, the Brazilian star was carried off on a stretcher shortly after halftime with what appeared to be an ankle injury. (The second leg is on March 8.)
The sense of impending doom was replaced by elation by Mbappé and Messi. Perhaps it will be fleeting. Or maybe Sunday will mark a turning point for the club. According to a commentator on BeIN Sports’ Spanish language broadcast, “Everything is possible when the best in the world is on the pitch.”