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Despite PSG dominating possession for long stretches at Groupama Stadium, Christophe Galtier’s side had to fend off a determined Lyon in the second half to take maximum points.
PSG’s win means it leapfrogs Marseille at the top of the table after extending its winning streak to six matches across all competitions.
Defeat for Lyon ended its run of eight straight league victories on home soil – the longest span in the big five European leagues.
PSG took the lead after just five minutes, as Messi swept a first-time shot past Anthony Lopes following a neat one-two with Neymar.
Messi was then denied from a tight angle as the visitor dominated the opening 20 minutes, while Lopes blocked Kylian Mbappe’s 20-yard effort.
Lyon responded well and squandered a glorious opportunity to equalise when Alexandre Lacazette headed wide from six yards.
Home captain Lacazette and Karl Toko Ekambi shot straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma as Lyon continued to threaten, while the latter also sent a 25-yard drive whistling narrowly wide of the left post.
PSG almost doubled its lead within a minute of the second half starting, as Castello Lukeba headed Messi’s goal-bound shot off the line.
It then took magnificent reflexes from Lopes to prevent Neymar and Messi from increasing the lead, while Thiago Mendes’ brilliant last-ditch intervention also thwarted Neymar.
The visitor survived a scare when Marquinhos blocked Moussa Dembele’s goalbound header, before Messi was denied a late second as Lopes saved brilliantly from his free-kick. Sergio Ramos was denied by the offside flag when he tucked in the loose ball.