Clermont ft 0-5 Paris Saint-Germain: Messi double helps PSG start title defense in emphatic style

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

Goals from Neymar, Achraf Hakimi and Marquinhos followed Argentina’s two finishes, including a brilliant cycle kick that gave the champions a head start at the Stade Gabriel-Montpide.

On the back of last weekend’s Trophée des Champions victory over Nantes, it marks two of two victories for new coach Christophe Gaultier after arriving at the Parc des Princes.

But it will be the mode of his result that delights supporters the most, despite star man Mbappe’s absence due to injury, as the France international has yet to play a competitive fixture since forging his future at the club.

After winning gold in Israel last month to claim the first silverware of the season, Neymar was on the song again in the ninth minute for PSG, producing a low finish after a clean flick from Lionel Messi.

A quarter-hour later, the Brazilian reached Hakimi’s feet as he walked across the ground, prompting his shot pass to goalkeeper Mori Diav to double the visitors’ lead.

Any away hope Clermont might have held to get a result back was then extinguished seven minutes shy of the interval, when Marquinhos went head-on in a Neymar free-kick delivery from the left bank.

With a three-goal cushion to their name, the need to pick up the pace proved less pressure for PSG after the break, and in the way of stubborn resistance from their hosts, the win proved to be a foregone conclusion.

But the best was yet to come from Argentine star Messi, who saved his firework for the final 10 minutes, swung a flat ball from Neymar into his first home and then wrapped up three points in style by hoisting an overhead kick for a surprising second.