French League champions Lille defeat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the French Champions Trophy season curtain-raiser in balmy Tel Aviv on Sunday night.
Portuguese midfielder Xeka scored the winner just before half-time with an unstoppable strike from outside the penalty area that left PSG stopper Keylor Navas no chance.
“We revealed who we are and we deserve this trophy,” expressed Xeka.
“A few months after the league title we can all celebrate this new one. Work pays, and that’s how we intend to move forward.”
Having won the previous eight Champions Trophy matches, PSG arrived in Tel Aviv Saturday without Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel di Maria along with new star signings Spanish defender Sergio Ramos and Italian ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
A positive test for Covid-19 ruled out PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
There was a lively launching for Georginio Wijnaldum signed from Liverpool on a free transfer and who came on with twenty minutes to play.
PSG had their chances and Mauro Icardi had the ball in the Lille goal on 76 minutes, twisting a deft clip from close range, but what would have been a peach of an equalizer was ruled offside.
Lille brought a powerful side and took the game to the Parisians, who they pipped to the French title last season by a single point in a tense run-in.
New Lille coach Jocelyn Gourvennec thanked his predecessor Christophe Galtier for his work and said the new title was partly his too.
“PSG plays a great technical game, but our lads were ready athletically and our collective play was tight. The team knows what it’s doing,” he expressed.
The match was the first domestic football aired in France by streaming giant Amazon.
Some 27,500 fans were on hand to see the game at Bloomfield Stadium, home of Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv, on a baking evening with regular water breaks for players with the temperature at 29C (84F.)
Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams brought the French season-opener to Israel.
The entrepreneur who runs the cycling outfit Israel Start-Up Nation said the host nation would come out a winner from staging the contest.