Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi scored in the 67th and 74th minutes of a Champions League victory over Leipzig on Tuesday in Paris. Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE
Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Argentine forward Lionel Messi scored two second-half goals to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-2 win over RB Leipzig in the group stage of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League soccer tournament.
Messi scored in the 67th and 74th minutes of the comeback victory in Group A on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. He turned down a potential hat trick when he allowed teammate Kylian Mbappe to attempt a penalty kick in stoppage time.
Mbappe, who missed the penalty, scored in the ninth minute of the win.
"We didn't start the second half in the way that we wanted conceding the second," PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino told PSG TV. "But after that the players and the team showed great character like we've been doing all season.
"Of course we know that we have to improve and we're going to improve but under the circumstances we need to be happy and to praise the players because they were very good."
The PSG defense sent a clearance up to forward Julian Draxler to set up the game's first score. Draxler turned and sent a through ball across midfield for Mbappe as he ran from right to left.
The speedy French striker received the pass and scorched up the left flank. He cut his dribble inside just as he entered the box and fired a strike to the right side of the near post for a 1-0 lead.
Leipzig equalized in the 28th minute. Left wing Angelino received a pass in the left side of the box during that play. He sent a pass back toward the far post. Striker Andre Silva finished the play with a first-touch shot into the right side of the net.
The score was tied 1-1 at halftime. Angelino assisted a go-ahead goal for Leipzig about 11 minutes into the second half. The midfielder received a pass just above the PSG box on that possession. He then fired in a beautiful cross with his left foot.
The feed bent from left to right and landed on the foot of Nordi Mukiele. The Leipzig midfielder hit a first-touch shot past PSG keeper Keylor Navas.
Messi equalized for PSG about 10 minutes later. PSG right back Achraf Hakimi forced a turnover on the Leipzig half to spark that score.
Mbappe snagged the loose ball and dribbled into the box. He slipped a pass to Messi about 10 yards in front of the goal. Messi fired a shot toward the left post, but the ball was deflected by Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi.
The ball ricocheted off the post, but Messi ran forward and tapped in a follow-up shot.
Leipzig right back Mohamed Simakan fouled Mbappe in the box in the 73rd minute, prompting Messi's penalty kick. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner stepped up to the spot and chipped the left-footed attempt into the left side of the net.
Leipzig gave PSG another penalty kick when defender Josko Gvardiol fouled Hakimi in the second minute of stoppage time. Mbappe sent that attempt high over the crossbar.
"We're happy and I think we can still improve," PSG right wing Ander Herrera said. "We started the game well in the first 20 to 25 minutes and then we lost control of the game a bit so we need to improve on that."
PSG battles Marseille in France's Ligue 1 at 2:45 p.m. EDT Sunday at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille. Leipzig hosts Furth in Germany's Bundesliga at 9:30 a.m. EDT Saturday in Leipzig.
The club's return to the Champions League for a rematch at 4 p.m. EDT Nov. 3 in Leipzig. PSG leads Group A with two wins, one draw and no losses. Leipzig is in last place with an 0-3 record in the group stage. Manchester City is second with two wins and one loss.