Mauricio Pochettino defends decision to hook Lionel Messi

Mauro Icardi scored a late winner for PSG against Lyon after Messi’s substitution

Lionel Messi was brought off as PSG chased a winner against Lyon on Sunday night. Photograph: Franck Fife/Getty/AFP

Lionel Messi was brought off as PSG chased a winner against Lyon on Sunday night. Photograph: Franck Fife/Getty/AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has defended his decision to substitute forward Lionel Messi in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Olympique Lyonnais in the French Ligue 1 and said the Argentine was okay with being taken off.

Messi, making his third appearance for the side, hit the woodwork but failed to score on his Parc des Princes debut and was substituted in the 75th minute with the score at 1-1.

The 34-year-old former Barcelona player looked puzzled when he was replaced with fullback Achraf Hakimi and exchanged words with Pochettino as he walked off the pitch.

“I think we all know we have great players in this 35-man squad. Only 11 can play, we can’t play more. The decisions in the game are made for the good of the team and each player,” Pochettino told reporters.

“Every coach thinks about that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes players like it and sometimes they don’t. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here.

“These are decisions that have to be made by the coach. As for his reaction, I asked him how he was, he said he was okay. That was it. That was our exchange.”

A stoppage-time goal by Mauro Icardi earned PSG a victory as the leaders maintained their perfect record with 18 points.

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