The Argentine, who signed a free transfer from Barcelona this summer, found his way to the net with a trademark effort midway through the second half after Idrissa Gueye’s eighth-minute strike opened the scoring .
Messi was in doubt to start the match, having missed out on Ligue 1 wins over Metz and Montpellier with a knee problem, but joined Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in the top three which started PSG’s draw with Club Brugge in their first group match.
Neymar seemed to have had an early chance to open the scoring by mistaking Mbappe’s cut, but former Everton midfielder Gueye came in behind him to score a superb finish in the top corner.
City responded well on goal and were the better team for much of the first half, dominating possession in a manner similar to what saw them beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.
They should have been tied before the break when Raheem Sterling’s header returned from the bar to give Bernardo Silva an open goal from three yards, only for the Portuguese to lift his effort on the woodwork as well.
City were also up after the break and seemed the most likely to add to the score until Messi’s magical moment at 16 minutes per hour.
The 34-year-old picked up the ball from Marco Verratti’s return and led into City’s half before sinking into Mbappe and hanging on to the Frenchman’s wonderful back heel kick to guide a first strike through Ederson and in the upper corner.