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Football news – Mauricio Pochettino defends decision to substitute Lionel Messi as PSG beat Lyon in Ligue 1

Mauricio Pochettino has defended his decision to substitute Lionel Messi on his home debut for Paris Saint-Germain, saying “managers are there to make decisions”.

Messi looked frustrated when he was replaced by wing-back Achraf Hakimi after 75 minutes with PSG drawing 1-1 against Lyon.

PSG’s star summer signing even appeared to snub the offer of a handshake from head coach Pochettino as he made his way to the bench.

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But Pochettino said afterwards: “Everyone knows we have great players on the team. 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.

“Sometimes it pleases people, or it doesn’t. I asked him how he was, and he said he was fine.”

Pochettino’s decision to take off Messi would have come under more scrutiny if substitute Mauro Icardi had not scored a late winner.

The result ensures PSG, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Club Brugge in the Champions League in midweek, maintain their 100 per cent record in Ligue 1 and move five points clear of Marseille at the top of the table.

“It’s very positive for us,” said Pochettino. “After our difficult game against Brugge, winning again was important. Lyon are a great team, with great players and they played well in the first half. After the goal we conceded, we had to show some character.

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“We have to find the balance to provide strength to the team. We continue to work on it.”

Messi, who came close to scoring in the first half with a free-kick that hit the woodwork, will have another chance to open his PSG account against bottom club Metz on Wednesday evening.


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