Hakimi's match-winning PSG display lauded by Pochettino

By Sports Desk September 22, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed Achraf Hakimi after his brace preserved the Ligue 1 giants' perfect start to the season on Wednesday.

Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Lionel Messi-less PSG maintained their 100 per cent record in a dramatic 2-1 victory at Metz midweek.

PSG full-back Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for Pochettino's men to be pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Without superstar Messi due to a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set up a thrilling finish.

Metz head coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi scored a 95th-minute winner as PSG made it seven victories from seven league fixtures.

"I am indeed happy with him, he's a great guy, he's a player who's really bringing a lot to us, not just the goals, but also his capacity on the sideline to play both defensively and offensively," Pochettino said during his post-match news conference.

"I am very happy with him, and today, scoring goals, it's been an important reward for the team and for him."

Hakimi – an off-season signing from Serie A champions Inter – has been involved in 13 league goals in 2021 (six goals and seven assists), no defender has done better in the top five European competitions.

This was Hakimi's second brace in the top five European leagues after December 2020, with Inter against Bologna.

Pochettino added: "Can I tell an anecdote on Hakimi? Yesterday [Tuesday], after the training, I asked him: 'How are you?' And he said: 'Very well, very well'. And then he replied: 'And you coach? How are you?'

"I was surprised by the question. 'Because no one ever asks you!'. 'You ask everyone, but no one ever asks you'. And look, today he scored goals. That's the reward for having good intentions."

Pochettino also praised PSG star Neymar, who set up Hakimi's stoppage-time winner away to Metz.

Neymar has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 starts in Ligue 1 (10 goals and six assists).

"I am very happy with Ney and with his contribution to the team," Pochettino added. "For his attitude and mindset. I am very happy. What I believe is that creative players, players who the whole world hopes they show magic with every touch, those players spend extra energy that other players don't have.

"Therefore it would be unfair to have a player like Ney play every three days hoping that every ball he touches he makes the play of the year. I am very happy with Ney and I think today he did a massive job, like last Sunday. Playing every three day, especially for a players who's got to create constantly, is not easy. Because of that, I am very happy with his performance. Very happy of it."

PSG have won their first seven Ligue 1 games in 2021-22. Only four teams have managed such a performance at this stage previously in the top flight – Lille in 1936-37, Lille in 1949-50, Monaco in 1960-61 and PSG in 2018-19.

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