Pochettino praises Icardi after hat-trick on starting return

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with hat-trick hero Mauro Icardi's impact in Wednesday's 5-0 Coupe de France win after a month out with injury.

Icardi marked his first start for PSG in a month with a treble as they swept aside Angers to qualify for the Coupe de France semi-finals.

The Argentine, who spent last season on loan at PSG from Inter before signing permanently, has endured a difficult season impacted by injury.

"I'm glad Mauro scored three goals tonight," Pochettino said. "Anytime he's on the pitch, he has the opportunity to score.

"He's coming back from injury, I'm very happy with what he did."

Icardi has battled the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Moise Kean and Angel Di Maria for a regular spot when fit.

Pochettino would not be drawn on whether Wednesday's hat-trick would help the Argentine's cause in a bid to start in Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with Metz.

"We will see Saturday who will start," Pochettino said.

"It is always difficult for a player to suffer from muscle damage and to be held back by health problems. Even more so in a season of difficult circumstances like this."

Icardi's goals take his season tally to 11 in all competitions, having made 21 appearances.

"I felt confident," Icardi said. "I'd already scored against Saint-Etienne and I was very confident that I could come back after a tough injury hit year.

"I'm slowly getting back to form and scoring goals is always important for strikers."

Related items

  • The challenges facing English teams in the Champions League this week The challenges facing English teams in the Champions League this week

    The Champions League returns on Tuesday for the second round of group stage fixtures.

    Last month’s opening round provided a mixed bag of results, with two of the Premier League’s four representatives getting off to a winning start.

    Here the PA news agency takes a look at the opponents English clubs will be facing this week.

    Manchester United v Galatasaray (Tuesday)View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Galatasaray (@galatasaray)


    Galatasaray earned a spot in the competition through the qualifying rounds, where they won all four out of five matches before being drawn into Group A.

    A successful season saw them win the Super Lig title last year under manager Okan Buruk, lifting the trophy for a 23rd time, and there are a few new ex-Premier League acquisitions who could feature at Old Trafford.

    A busy transfer window saw former United and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha join the club during the summer, along with former Spurs duo Tanguy Ndombele and Davinson Sanchez.

    Former Paris St Germain and Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi leads the line for the team and is the top scorer in the Super Lig so far this season with seven goals. His side sit second in the table behind the unbeaten Fenerbahce.

    Galatasaray are just above United in the Group A standings, picking up one point so far in the competition after mounting a dramatic comeback against 10-man Copenhagen to draw 2-2 as Sacha Boey and Tete struck in the final 10 minutes.

    Lens v Arsenal (Tuesday)

    Lens secured their place in this year’s Champions League with an impressive second-placed finish in Ligue 1, just a point behind reigning champions PSG.

    It marked an incredible resurgence for the club, who were playing in Ligue 2 only three years ago before returning to the top tier of French football and earning back-to-back seventh-placed finishes.

    Despite their success last season, Lens have struggled in the league this year and are lingering above the relegation zone with only one point separating them and Lorient in the drop zone.

    After losing their first league game against Brest, the northern French side were winless for their next four games, which included losses to PSG and league leaders Monaco.

    However, in their first Champions League tie since 2002, Lens earned a point in their opening game at Sevilla as Angelo Fulgini cancelled out Lucas Ocampos’ early strike and they have since found some form to earn back-to-back league victories, their latest coming at Strasbourg on Friday night.

    Newcastle v Paris St Germain (Wednesday)View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Newcastle United FC (@nufc)


    If Lens have struggled to find momentum from last season, then reigning Ligue 1 champions PSG have also endured a tricky start to the new campaign as they sit fifth in the table.

    With 12 points from seven league games they are only two points behind leaders Monaco, but were held to a goalless draw on Saturday as their former academy goalkeeper Mory Diaw starred for strugglers Clermont Auvergne.

    There was plenty going on in Paris before the season began as Lionel Messi moved to MLS side Inter Miami and outgoing manager Christophe Galtier was replaced by former Spain and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

    Neymar then joined the exodus to Saudi Arabia, joining Pro League side Al Hilal and star striker Kylian Mbappe’s future was the subject of speculation, with the France captain barred from senior training for a short period until the issue was resolved.

    A bumpy start to the season saw PSG pick up two draws and they have since won three games, but their Champions League campaign got off to a winning start in a tough Group F, where they sit top of the standings after goals from Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi earned a 2-0 win against Borussia Dortmund.

    RB Leipzig v Manchester City (Wednesday)

    Defending champions Manchester City travel to Saxony on Wednesday as they face RB Leipzig with both sides tied at the top of Group G.

    The German outfit got off to a winning start in their opening tie, beating Young Boys 3-1 with goals from Mohamed Simakan, Xaver Schlager and Benjamin Sesko.

    However, they will be hoping to shake off the bad memories of last season’s meeting in the last 16 of the competition, where Erling Haaland scored five as City stormed to a 7-0 victory in a ruthless display, winning 8-1 on aggregate.

    Leipzig are currently fifth in the Bundesliga and saw their four-game winning streak in the league end against Bayern Munich, who came from behind to draw 2-2.

    They have only lost one other game this season in the league, to leaders Bayer Leverkusen on the opening day, and are now three points away from them in the standings.

  • Kylian Mbappe fit to face Clermont but could be rested by Paris St Germain Kylian Mbappe fit to face Clermont but could be rested by Paris St Germain

    Kylian Mbappe is available for Paris St Germain’s Ligue 1 clash with Clermont on Saturday but could be rested ahead of the Champions League trip to Newcastle.

    The France forward was forced off early in last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Marseille with an ankle injury and boss Luis Enrique must decide whether to risk him in the meeting against the league’s bottom side.

    Mbappe trained away from the rest of the squad on Thursday but was back with his team-mates on Friday.

    “Kylian Mbappe trained with the squad today, he’s available,” said Enrique on PSG TV. “He has had some treatment and done some specific sessions, but he’s in shape to play.”

    The defending champions made a shaky start to the season, drawing with Lorient and Toulouse and losing to Nice, and sit third in the table behind Brest and Nice heading into the weekend.

    But the result against big rivals Marseille coupled with a Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has put a different complexion on things.

    “Confidence comes with good results,” said Enrique. “We had some difficult results early in the season but, when you win, everything is great, and confidence builds with victories.

    “There’s a lot of things to improve. In a learning process, there is always a phase at the start where you have to learn a lot.

    “We’re still in that phase. I’ve been very happy with the players since I took over but we’re still far from the level we want to achieve in attack and defence.”

    Clermont have taken only one point from their first six matches, conceding 12 goals in the process, but Enrique believes that belies their quality.

    “They don’t deserve to be bottom of the table,” he said. “They play good football, work well, and last season had a very solid base. They’re one of the best teams defensively.

    “It’s an important game because it comes a few days before a Champions League away game. We mustn’t drop off and underestimate our opponents. It won’t be an easy game.”

    PSG, meanwhile, announced on Friday that left-back Nuno Mendes is expected to be out for a further four months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring in Finland.

    The 21-year-old Portugal international suffered the injury in July and an operation has now been deemed the best option in his recovery.

    Enrique said: “For Nuno Mendes, we have to be careful with all of that.

    “We’ve got enough strength in depth but we have to find solutions because the season is long.”

  • Nicolas Jackson strike earns Chelsea much-needed cup victory over Brighton Nicolas Jackson strike earns Chelsea much-needed cup victory over Brighton

    Chelsea earned respite from their difficult start to the season under Mauricio Pochettino as Nicolas Jackson’s second-half goal gave them a 1-0 win against Brighton in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

    Roberto De Zerbi’s high-flying visitors dominated possession for much of the game but home fans witnessed their side put on an effective counter-attacking display at Stamford Bridge.

    Chelsea had gone three games without scoring, but that run ended when Jackson struck early in the second half after being set up by Cole Palmer, planting a composed finish into the corner to ease his personal struggles in front of goal.

    Pochettino made five changes from the side beaten by Aston Villa on Sunday, with Palmer brought in for his first start.

    The former Manchester City forward began in an advanced three alongside Mykhailo Mudryk and Ian Maatsen, but was at his most effective when dropping to receive the ball deep, seeking out the critical final-third passes that have eluded Chelsea and meant they have scored just five league goals in six games.

    Jackson had an early sight of goal, winning the ball on the edge of Brighton’s box and hitting a left-footed drive that deflected over.

    Robert Sanchez was one of three former Brighton players in the Chelsea line-up and twice in the first period the goalkeeper almost gifted his former side the lead, first passing the ball straight to the feet of Joao Pedro who chipped it inches over the bar, then putting Moises Caicedo under pressure in a central position. He was dispossessed by Carlo Baleba, who rolled the ball to Ansu Fati to fire wide from the best opening of the half.

    Brighton had enjoyed 66 per cent possession by the half-hour mark, leaving Chelsea to look for openings on the break.

    The lively Mudryk ran in behind from Caicedo’s defence-splitting pass, only for Tariq Lamptey to slide in with an expertly timed intervention.

    Minutes later, Mudryk turned provider, latching on to Levi Colwill’s forceful tackle that sent the ball spinning upfield and crossing low to the near post for Palmer to side-foot wide under pressure from Igor Julio.

    Chelsea had endured their worst start to a season in 45 years but relief looked finally to have arrived five minutes after half-time.

    Maatsen received the ball centrally and laid it into the feet of Palmer, who had been a lurking first-half threat playing between the lines. He tucked it in cleverly to Jackson, who wrong-footed Bart Verbruggen to guide home his second goal for the club.

    It was just the third time this season that Pochettino had seen his team take the lead, and they should have gone further in front when Mudryk’s energetic midfield pressing won the ball and set Jackson away, but this time the goalkeeper got the best of their duel after spreading himself well.

    Home fans thought Jackson had scored the second goal his performance deserved when he slotted home from Palmer’s pass, but the offside flag cut short celebrations.

    Brighton had late chances to level, first when Pervis Estupinan collected a raking ball and ran it to the byline, but no one had gambled as his cross fizzed across goal.

    Pedro then thumped a volley over the bar from Axel Disasi’s weak headed clearance but Chelsea held on to finally hand Pochettino room to breathe.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.