Soccer-Messi taken off due to tiredness, says PSG coach

Soccer Football - Champions League - Group H - Benfica v Paris St Germain - Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal - October 5, 2022 Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi reacts REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

(Reuters) - Paris St Germain coach Christophe Galtier allayed fears about a possible injury to Lionel Messi on Wednesday, saying the Argentine forward had asked to be substituted due to tiredness late in their 1-1 Champions League draw with Benfica.

Messi, who put PSG ahead in the 22nd minute before Benfica drew level through Danilo Pereira's own goal, was replaced by Pablo Sarabia in the 81st minute.

"He gestured saying he wanted to be substituted," Galtier told RMC Sport.

"After making a sprint, he felt tired. He came off, because he felt tired and a fresh team mate was much better at that moment in the game."

Galtier also criticised the Video Assistant Referee system for allowing Enzo Fernandez to escape a red card for a challenge on Marco Verratti that could have left the PSG midfielder with a broken leg.

Fernandez was booked in the 45th minute for the heavy tackle.

"I think the referee has not been helped by his assistants when it comes to VAR. I think Marco Verratti could have had a broken leg a minute before half-time," Galtier told reporters.

"The referee is focused on the game. This happens in front of him, this is hard to judge.

"He can make a mistake, but today there is the video assistant who should tell him about the two-footed challenge on Verratti's tibia."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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