Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe went wild together for the first time, but Paris Saint-Germain had to settle for a 1-1 Champions League draw at Club Brugge.
Mauricio Pochettino started with his formidable attacking trio on Wednesday at the Jan Breydel Stadion, with Mbappe serving Ander Herrera for the lead after an empty run on the left wing.
Many expected Brugge to collapse but responded with Hans Vanaken’s fifth goal in eight games in the competition.
Mbappe was forced out in the second half with a slight foot problem as PSG, despite embarrassment over offensive wealth, failed to kick off their Group A campaign with a win.
– OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 15, 2021
The visitors started brilliantly, Mbappe passing Clinton Mata before finding Herrera, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a first left-footed shot in the lower left corner.
Mbappe should have scored on his own after being thrown by Messi, but his right was beaten by Simon Mignolet.
Brugge then stunned the star-studded visiting team, with Eduard Sobol leading down the left flank before cutting the penalty, where Vanaken overtook Keylor Navas for his seventh Champions League goal, the highest in his club’s history. .
Messi tried to respond immediately, but his left-footed shot slammed into the crossbar before Vanaken and Charles de Ketelaere were both denied by clever saves from Navas.
Brugge nearly took the lead after the break with Jack Hendry, but Presnel Kimpembe produced a major block in the last-ditch, with Mbappe limping out moments later following a challenge from Stanley N’Soki.
Noa Lang acrobatically blasted off into another PSG scare before substitute Nuno Mendes found Messi, who declined a glorious opportunity to win the match as he lunged over.
What does it mean? The first three formidable combine, but PSG are again weak in defense
Before the trip to Belgium, Mbappe (37), Messi (36) and Neymar (31) represented half of the players who had scored over 30 Champions League goals in the past four seasons.
With Bruges suffering a 5-0 demolition the last time they hosted PSG, after Herrera’s lead, another defeat was expected, led by their world-class trio.
However, the hosts responded excellently to earn a memorable point, using Pochettino’s defensive problems to hold the visitors back to just a second draw in seven appearances against a Belgian side in the competition.
Herrera remains Pochettino’s midfielder
Pochettino eliminated Georginio Wijnaldum and Leandro Paredes at half-time after a disappointing first half.
However, he left top scorer Herrera, who completed 87 record passes and recorded 113 touches – another highlight of the game – in an impressive performance by the Spanish midfielder.
Ketelaere of class
Ketelaere may not have grabbed a goal or an assist, but he has remained a constant thorn in Marquinhos and Kimpembe’s side.
The striker delivered five key passes – two more than any other player on the pitch – winning 81.8% of his 11 duels and completing over 90% of his passes in the PSG half.
Opta key facts
– PSG remain unbeaten against Belgian opponents in the Champions League (D7 V5 D2), scoring 22 goals and conceding just two goals.
The French club have won their first Champions League match in just one of their last four seasons (1N S2), beating Real Madrid 3-0 in 2019-20.
– PSG have scored at least once in each of their last 33 matches in the Champions League group stage, a streak that started in November 2015. This is the longest running streak in the competition’s group stage.
– Herrera’s first goal for PSG was his first ever Champions League goal (28th appearance in the competition) – The Spaniard has now scored four goals in his last four games with PSG in all competitions, having only scored two goals in his first 70 appearances for the French side.
– Messi lost four consecutive Champions League appearances without a win (P2 S2). Only between March 2006 and February 2007 did he spend more time without a win in the competition (a streak of five with Barcelona).
PSG will host Lyon in Ligue 1 on Sunday, with their next group match against last year’s runner-up Manchester City on 28 September. Brugge will face Charleroi on Saturday.