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Pochettino defends controversial Messi substitution in Lyon clash

Mauricio Pochettino, Lionel Messi
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The PSG boss made a bold decision to replace Lionel Messi on his home debut in Paris, while his side searched for a winner against Lyon.

Mauricio Pochettino has defended his decision to substitute Lionel Messi during Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Lyon on Sunday.

Messi made his home debut for PSG in the French capital. The Argentine had a decent start, which included some slick interplay with Neymar, and saw a free-kick hit the bar. His levels dropped, however, after the break, so Pochettino replaced him with Achraf Hakimi in the 76th-minute.

At the time, PSG and Lyon were tied at 1-1 after Neymar canceled out Lucas Paqueta’s opening goal with an equalizer past the hour-mark.

Messi didn’t seem overjoyed by his substitution either, but substitute Mauro Icardi’s injury-time goal spared Pochettino’s blushes and kept PSG’s 100% record in Ligue 1 intact for this season.

“Everyone knows we have great players on the team,” said PSG coach Pochettino, as quoted on Goal, about his decision to substitute Messi.

“We have a very rich squad of 35 players. Then we have to make choices. With the 11 who must start. And then we have to make decisions during the game.

“Sometimes these choices pay off and sometimes they don’t. But that’s why we’re standing in front of the bench thinking about what to do. And those decisions that you have to make, whether things go well or not. Whether you like it or not.”

Messi could have another chance to impress for PSG on Wednesday’s visit to Metz for the club’s next Ligue 1 outing.