Paris Saint-Germain kicked off their Ligue 1 campaign with a 2-1 victory despite suffering an early scare against Troyes.
Oualid El Hajjam’s ninth-minute header had the newly promoted hosts on top but their delight was cut short 10 minutes later when Achraf Hakimi smashed in a first goal for his new club.
Mauro Icardi doubled the blow two minutes later with what proved to be the winner, poking past goalkeeper Gauthier Gallon after good work by Kylian Mbappe.
Amid speculation over the possible arrival of Lionel Messi in Paris, Mauricio Pochettino’s side started positively on the field as they look to recapture a Ligue 1 crown which they have claimed in seven of the past nine seasons.
Thilo Kehrer’s last-ditch intervention made amends for centre-back partner Presnel Kimpembe’s early mistake as Troyes threatened, though PSG did not escape so lightly from the resulting corner. El Hajjam greeted Dylan Chambost’s inswinging delivery as the centre-back nodded past Keylor Navas.
Ander Herrera sent a rising effort into the side netting but shortly after Hakimi restored parity, powering onto Herrera’s pass before blasting a right-footed volley into the roof of the net.
Things rapidly worsened for the hosts when Icardi added a second, the forward prodding home after Mbappe’s cutback found his team-mate inside the area.
Mbappe thought he had scored himself when he rounded Gallon and curled towards goal, only to be denied by Jimmy Giraudon’s goal-line clearance.
Renaud Ripart induced a smart reflex save from Navas to keep out a drilled strike that seemed destined for the net, while Mama Balde’s audacious acrobatics had the PSG goalkeeper scrambling after the break.
Back-to-back opportunities followed for the away side to finish the game off but neither went in, Icardi flicking a header wide and Mbappe bending a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
2 – Paris have won their last two Ligue 1 games where they conceded the opening goal (3-2 v St Etienne in last April and 2-1 v Troyes tonight), after failing to win any of their previous eight (D2 L6). Pushy. #ESTACPSG pic.twitter.com/RadUGWVepL
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 7, 2021
What does this mean? PSG off on the right track
A good start to make amends for last season’s underwhelming campaign was vital for Pochettino and they began in positive fashion despite an initial blip.
While PSG had lost just one of their previous nine opening games in Ligue 1 (W5 D3), they were beaten by Lens to open the 2020-21 season. However, Saturday’s win sets the visitors off in the right direction to reclaim their crown.
Hakimi’s happy debut
Hakimi’s equaliser rapidly removed any nerves for the away side, smashing in to become the first player since Metehan Guclu in 2019 to score on his top-flight debut for PSG.
Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, only Robin Gosens (34) has more goal involvements for a defender across Europe’s top five leagues than Hakimi (31), while his goal here saw him become just the second Moroccan to score in Ligue 1 for the club.
Tough outing for Touzghar
Yoann Touzghar almost profited from Kimpembe’s early error to square across Navas’ goal, though his performance declined from there on in.
The forward cut an isolated figure up top, winning just 33.3 per cent of his duels as he touched the ball just 20 times – the lowest figure for any player who started the game.
PSG host Strasbourg next Saturday – could Messi be part of the squad by then? As for Troyes, they travel to Clermont Foot the day after.