Mauricio Pochettino explains decision to sub Messi at half-time in PSG win

Lionel Messi was substituted at half-time in Paris Saint-Germain's clash with Lille as a 'precaution', Mauricio Pochettino has revealed.

Messi, 34, was withdrawn at the interval with PSG 1-0 down against defending champions Lille on Friday night.

The former Barcelona man started the match up front and was searching for his first Ligue 1 goal for the French giants, but appeared to be struggling with a muscle problem.

Pochettino made the decision to take Messi off at the break and sent on Mauro Icardi in his place to try and turn the game around.

The decision caused uproar on social media, but PSG battled back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria.

In his post-match press conference, Pochettino admitted he is sweating on Messi's condition.

"We have to wait," said Pochettino of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. "We were with the doctors at half-time, it’s a precaution, he couldn’t continue. We hope that’s not a big deal."

In Messi's absence, Argentine team-mate Di Maria proved the hero for PSG, laying on the assist for the equaliser before finding a winner late on to complete a last-gasp comeback.

Should Lionel Messi have joined PSG? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The result saw the hosts extend their lead at the top to 10 points after just 12 games, while last season's champions Lille are 11th.

Ex-Tottenham boss Poch was pleased to get the win, but urged his side to "play better" in the future.

He said: "We won indeed, and we were overall better, there's no doubt about that.

"We need to play better, and we want to play better. We don't think our performance is good enough yet, but I think we need to give the players and the squad credit, because it's another team victory, and that's important.

"Overall, we need to improve, but I'm happy because the three points are really really important. Always. It's important to win, because of the three points, but also for the next game because it gives us more belief."

Up next for PSG is the return match against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday. Three points in Germany could all but guarantee their passage through to the knockout stage.

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