Paris Saint-Germain were far from their best but managed to fight for a 2-1 victory over Toulouse on Saturday.
The visitors took the lead through a free-kick in the first half but two moments of pure class from Achraf Hakimi and Lionel Messi were enough to conjure up a hard-fought three points for PSG, who were missing both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to injury.
A slow start to the game, in which Renato Sanches limped off injured, saw very few chances aside from Fabian Ruiz’s poor effort from the edge of the box, but a moment of magic from set-piece specialist Branco van den Boomen put the visitors in front.
Lining up a free kick from the edge of the box, Van den Boomen caught Gianluigi Donnarumma out of position to curl a precise effort into the Italian’s bottom corner 20 minutes in.
PSG came close to equalising from a Lionel Messi corner. The Argentine icon curled the ball right across goal and could do nothing but watch as the ball hit the post, perhaps with a flick from Marquinhos, and deflected away.
Toulouse had the ball in the back of the net almost straight after through Anthony Rouault, whose header was correctly chalked off for offside, but there was no stopping Hakimi’s equaliser.
Seven minutes before the interval, the right-back cut inside and, with his left foot, thundered home from range to tie things up in a first half which PSG could have no complaints about not being ahead.
Another moment of magic, this time from Messi, but the hosts ahead. Hakimi cut inside once again and set up the Argentine, who bent his effort from the edge of the box and into the back of the net.
The late stages were a little nervy for PSG, who struggled to hold the ball and gave up plenty of chances, although Messi had the best chance in the dying embers as he struck the post with almost the last kick of the game.
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 5/10 – Poor positioning for the opening goal. You expect better from someone of his calibre.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 9/10 – A scorcher of a goal in yet another impressive performance from Hakimi, who also set up Messi’s excellent strike.
CB: Marquinhos – 6/10 – Solid enough at the back under more pressure than he’d have expected. May or may not have hit the post from Messi’s corner.
CB: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Moved into midfield after Sanches’ early injury and did a nice job of adding some real muscle to the heart of the pitch.
LB: Nuno Mendes – 3/10 – Felt like he had more fouls than passes. Could have easily had four or five yellow cards. No idea how he avoided a red.
CM: Renato Sanches – 5/10 – Pulled up with a hamstring injury after only ten minutes and could not continue.
CM: Fabian Ruiz – 5/10 – Looked a bit uncomfortable. Didn’t seem to know what to do up against a resolute defence.
CM: Carlos Soler – 3/10 – Failed to link midfield and attack. Poor movement and decision-making which really hampered his team.
AM: Vitinha – 4/10 – Didn’t offer nearly enough creativity. Guilty of dribbling when he should have been passing.
ST: Hugo Ekitike – 5/10 – You could have easily missed Ekitike in the first half, but his movement stepped up after the break.
ST: Lionel Messi – 8/10 – Played more in midfield than most of the actual midfielders did. Really tried to drag his side to a good result and it was his glorious goal which inspired the win.
El Chadaille Bitshiabu (14′ for Sanches) – 5/10
Juan Bernat (76′ for Mendes) – 6/10
Warren Zaire-Emery (76′ for Soler) – 6/10
Ismael Gharbi (89′ for Ekitike) – N/A
Christophe Galtier – 6/10 – Hands were somewhat tied with the absences of both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. A very youthful bench but perhaps needed to show more faith as his seniors struggled. Hard to be too critical.
Player of the match – Achraf Hakimi
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