Clermont Foot 0-5 Paris Saint-Germain: Messi double helps PSG begin title defence in emphatic style

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A late Lionel Messi double helped Paris Saint-Germain start their Ligue 1 title defence in inspired fashion despite Kylian Mbappe's absence with a 5-0 rout of Clermont Foot on Saturday.

The Argentinian netted two finishes, including a superb bicycle kick, after goals from Neymar, Achraf Hakimi and Marquinhos got the champions off to a dominant start at Stade Gabriel-Montpied.

On the back of last weekend's Trophee des Champions victory over Nantes, it marks two wins from two for new coach Christophe Galtier following his arrival at the Parc des Princes.

But it will be the manner of their result that pleases supporters most despite the absence of star man Mbappe through injury, with the France international yet to play a competitive fixture since committing his future to the club.

Having struck gold in Israel last month to claim the first silverware of the season, Neymar was on song again for PSG in the ninth minute, producing a low finish following Lionel Messi's neat flick.

The Brazilian turned provider just over a quarter-hour later, passing across the field to the feet of Hakimi, who powered his shot past goalkeeper Mory Diaw to double the visitors' lead.

Any distant hope Clermont may have held of clawing a result back was then duly extinguished seven minutes shy of the interval, when Marquinhos rose to head in a Neymar free-kick delivery from left flank.

But the best was yet to come from Argentina star Messi, who saved his fireworks for the final 10 minutes, turning a flat Neymar ball home for his first and then unfurling an overhead kick for a stunning second to wrap up the three points in style.

What does it mean? Champions throw down title defence gauntlet

With the Mauricio Pochettino era fast disappearing in the rear-view mirror, it is an energised PSG side that have emerged at the start of the 2022-23 campaign, winning their first two games across all competitions for the first time since 2019.

Without Mbappe too, they looked a fearsome proposition – and new boss Galtier will know this result fires a warning shot to any rival for their crown.

Neymar underscores vitality again

Across their first two competitive games of the new campaign, the Brazilian has scored three and assisted four. After a troubled campaign that saw both he and Messi made scapegoats at points, the forward will hope to reforge his reputation among the club's fanbase.

Clermont face trying campaign

Having just escaped relegation last term, Pascal Gastien's side are facing another tricky season, mustering just one shot on target all night. With four teams set for the drop as part of a restructure this term, they will face a tough test to stay afloat.

What's next?

PSG will head back to the capital for their first home game of the season next Saturday, against Montpellier, while Clermont will hit the road to travel to Reims a day later.

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