Mauricio Pochettino responds to Lionel Messi snub during comeback victory
Messi snubbed his manager as he left the pitch
Mauricio Pochettino has played down Lionel Messi’s decision to refuse his handshake when he was substituted during Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Lyon on Sunday night.
PSG left it late to secure all three points and ensure that they kept their 100% record in tact with a comeback win at the weekend.
Lyon took the lead in the 54th minute through Lucas Paqueta, but the Parisians were soon level when Neymar converted from the penalty spot.
The points looked like they were going to be shared at the Parc des Princes until second-half substitute Mauro Icardi headed home in the 93rd minute to ensure that Pochettino's side maintained a perfect start to their Ligue 1 campaign and extended their lead above Marseille to five points.
Despite securing victory, not everything went to plan for the league leaders as, with 15 minutes remaining and the score level at 1-1, Pochettino substituted Messi and brought his home debut to a sudden end.
The manager's decision clearly annoyed the Argentine who made his feelings known by refusing to shake the 49-year-old's hand before trudging to the PSG bench.
Messi is not happy with the substitution https://t.co/Ad3vdFFjwx
— 𝓒𝓱𝓮 ⍟ 🇦🇷🇮🇶🧉 (@CheWisam) September 19, 2021
However, Messi's compatriot was quick to downplay the situation and insisted that Messi was 'fine' with the decision.
"I took the decision to take Leo off to protect him for possible injuries. We have important games coming up and we want to protect him," said Pochettino.
"These are decisions that we make for the good of the team. Everyone knows we have great players.
"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," he added.
"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.
"Afterwards, Messi told me he was fine with the decision."
It was the first time that PSG fans were able to witness Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé starting together on home soil.
The trio were all involved in the French side's underwhelming draw against Club Brugge in the Champions League in midweek, but Pochettino was pleased with the reposes that his team showed.
"It's very positive for us," said the former Spurs manager. "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.
"We have to find the balance to provide strength to the team. We continue to work on it.”
It's another quick turnaround for PSG who are in league action once again on Wednesday night when they travel to Metz, who currently sit bottom of the table.