It’s not everyday that the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Sergio Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain not only grace the Bloomfield pitch but score as well and that’s exactly what occurred as PSG drubbed Nantes 4-0 to capture the French Super Cup to the delight of an overflowing crowd at the Tel Aviv stadium.
The partisan PSG crowd continuously sang Messi’s name all night long as the star of the show conducted the Parisien orchestra to perfection as the Argentine opened the scoring while giving way to a Neymar free kick and penalty while Ramos added a cheeky back heel of his own to sew up the win.
“It was really great here in Israel,” Neymar who scored a brace said following the game. “I enjoyed the whether and it was a terrific match. Me, Messi and Mbappe perhaps can make history together. This was the first game of the season and we began with a win.”
PSG’s new head coach Christophe Galtier was very pleased with his players performance, “I’m very happy about the win and there are players in this group who have been champions before. We gave up two chances but our keeper made the saves and we were able to attack as a collective and we took advantage of the situations that we had. All in all I’m very content as we scored four goals and we didn’t concede, we need to keep working this way with our spirits high.”
Antoine Kombouaré, the Nantes bench boss took the loss in stride, “We had a tough complicated first match and when we gave up a couple, of goals in the first half with one right at the break by Neymar that put us in a very bad situation. We knew that in Israel there were many PSG supporters and that the atmosphere would also be an issue for us which we saw on the pitch.”
The game is part of a series of joint initiatives by philanthropist and businessman Sylvan Adams and Comtec group to bring the world’s largest sports and leisure events to Israel, in partnership with the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP). The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem and the museum’s chairman, Mr. Larry Mizel, served as the game’s official sponsor, with the aim of promoting tolerance and respect through sport as they brought 1,000 young Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children to enjoy the star-studded match.
Prior to the match itself, the PSG players spent time meeting children from Save a Child’s Heart which has brought children over from an incredible 64 countries to have life-saving heart surgeries in Israel.
Adams described the organization as the “true heart of the State of Israel” as the players were very moved by the warm welcome and meeting the children, who came from different countries, among them: Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Chad, Kenya and Zambia. They are currently in Israel for heart surgery at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital.
The players, including the stars Neymar, Messi and Ramos, met the kids, talked to them and signed their shirts and footballs. During the meeting, while focusing on the incredible children and their stories, Messi and Neymar emphasized that they are happy to be back in Israel.
As for the game itself, PSG controlled the tempo over the course of the first quarter hour with chances coming from Achraf Hakimi in close but he missed the target, Marco Verratti fed Pablo Sarabia but his effort went over the goal while Presnel Kimpembe dropped a ball in the box for Marquinhos who headed it into the bar.
Nantes had two big chances soon thereafter as Moses Simon missed his opportunity while PSG keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had to be alert to stop Ludovic Blas, but minutes later Messi made sure Les Parisiens were back in control.
Neymar sent Messi a tremendous through ball from 30 meters out as the superstar went by Nantes keeper Alban Lafont and slotted a gorgeous right footed ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 PSG lead in the 22nd minute.
PSG kept putting the pressure on as Hakimi sent Messi a smart pass at the top of the box who in turn sent the ball to Neymar but his attempt just skipped by wide of the far post and then Messi turned on his motor as he scorched through the area but his chance was just stopped by Lafont.
Just as Les Rouges-et-Bleu were about to head down to the break, they were awarded a free kick which Messi feigned to take as Neymar brilliantly blasted into the top left hand corner of the goal for a 2-0 PSG lead at halftime.
Messi didn’t cool down in the second half as he sent a corner into the box that Sergio Ramos back flicked into the goal while Neymar gingerly sent a pinpoint perfect penalty past Lafont in the 81st minute for a 4-0 advantage.
As the fans serenaded Messi “the flea” he almost added his second of the game but Lafont pawed the ball to safety as PSG wrapped up a convincing victory to hoist “Le Trophee des Champions” into the air.
In other international soccer action in Israel, AS Roma slipped by Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in the I-Tech Cup at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa as the lone goal was scored off a header by Roger Ibanez in the first half to secure the victory. Earlier during their trip, Roma and head coach Jose Mourinho visited Jerusalem’s Old City which included a number of very moving moments at the Western Wall as players learned about the history of the site and also placed personal notes into the cracks of the wall.