PLAYER RATINGS | PSG 2-1 Toulouse: Lionel Messi scores the winner for league leaders

With both Kylian Mbappé and Neymar absent with injury, it was up to Lionel Messi to lead Paris Saint-Germain back to victory at home. The Argentine did just that, alongside an excellent Achraf Hakimi in a hard-fought win over a fearless Toulouse side who were going into the game unbeaten in 2023.

The team’s injury crisis went from bad to worse early on as Renato Sanches went down with another thigh injury, and was replaced by young defender El Chadaille Bitshiabu while Danilo Pereira moved back up into midfield. It would be a nightmare start to Bitshiabu’s game, though, as the defender gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box – one that was slotted into the bottom corner by the visitors’ mercurial midfielder Branco van den Boomen to open the scoring, after a particularly badly placed wall.

PSG would bounce back, though, as Hakimi found the net with a curled shot from range after cutting inside, the Moroccan and Messi emerging as the hosts’ best performers again. The second half saw the Argentine get on the scoresheet, putting the league leaders ahead with a sweeping finish from the edge of the box.

Although a few chances did come the way of Philippe Montanier’s men – Gianluigi Donnarumma forced into a last-gasp reflex save from close range – there was an air of assuredness that eluded PSG against Reims, that helped them see out the win. It’s an air they’ll look to cling on to ahead of a hectic fixture list this month and an ever-increasing injury list. Marseille and Monaco up next.

PSG player ratings:

Gianluigi Donnarumma, 4 – Some suspect positioning on the free-kick scored by Van de Boomen and some frail showings in Toulouse’s attacks in the first half, but looked altogether more composed in the second.

Achraf Hakimi, 7 – The Moroccan has been PSG’s best player since the World Cup and once again led the way with his tireless work on the right-hand side – he scored the equaliser when the hosts looked to be submerged under Toulouse’s midfield control, and found Messi for the second.

Marquinhos, 5

Danilo Pereira – 6 – Started the match in defense before moving into midfield after Renato Sanches’ injury, doing a largely serviceable job in keeping play moving.

Nuno Mendes, 6

Vitinha, 5

Renato Sanches, n/a – The midfielder went down early on with a thigh injury, replaced by El Chadaille Bitshiabu, the young defender conceding the free-kick that led to the opener before composing himself and putting together a more solid performance for the remainder of the game.

Fabián Ruiz, 5

Carlos Soler, 3 – Despite his best efforts, the Spaniard’s contribution to PSG’s attacking phases is too feeble to make any real impact – this may be a result of positioning issues and isolation, but he was unable to make much of the few balls that came his way. Warren Zaïre-Emery’s introduction, albeit facing tired legs, instantly showed the difference between the two, the young Frenchman constantly breaking through and riding high in confidence after his first senior goal on Wednesday.

Hugo Ekitike, 5 – The young striker impressed with his work rate but was often too far from the penalty area to make a real impact going forward, although his contribution to the pressing effort was invaluable and he linked up well on a few occasions with his attacking partners.

Lionel Messi, 6 – After a somewhat misfiring first half – kept quiet by the omnipresent Stijn Spierings – the Argentine put the hosts ahead with a slick curled shot into the bottom corner and continued to lead the attacks in Kylian Mbappé and Neymar’s absence. Some intricate play on the edge of the box, but his teammates were ostensibly not on the same wavelength when it came to putting together chances.

Toulouse player ratings

Maxime Dupé, 5

Warren Kamanzi, 5

Anthony Rouault, 4

Rasmus Nicolaisen, 5

Moussa Diarra, 4

Brecht Dejaegere, 6

Stijn Spierings, 6 – Impeccable first-half showing to help the visitors dominate the midfield battle early on, ensuring the PSG attack was blunted. His influence waned as PSG grew into the game afterwards, but overall another impressive performance alongside his goalscoring compatriot.

Branco van den Boomen, 6 – Another great free-kick to open the scoring – his sixth goal in the league this season – as the Dutchman was once again the heartbeat of an impressive Toulouse side, that could only come up short today.

Farès Chaïbi, 4

Ado Onaiwu, 5

Zakaria Aboukhlal, 5

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin 

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