Christophe Galtier hailed another match-winning contribution from Lionel Messi after Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 2-1 to go eight points clear at the top of Ligue.
PSG suffered an early blow at the Parc des Princes on Saturday when midfielder Renato Sanches left the field in tears after joining an injury list that includes the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Sergio Ramos.
Things took another turn when Branco van den Boomen’s free-kick gave Toulouse a surprise lead 20 minutes in.
They responded like champions, Achraf Hakimi equalising with a sublime left-foot finish from 20 yards out after cutting in from the right seven minutes before the break.
Hakimi then provided an assist for the mercurial Messi, who produced a clinical first-time finish from outside the penalty area increase PSG’s lead over Marseille – who face Nice on Sunday.
Messi is up to 10 goals for the season for a 16th time in one of the top five European leagues, this being the first campaign he has hit double figures for the Parisian giants.
PSG head coach Galtier was pleased with the way his side recovered from losing midfielder Sanches and falling behind.
VICTORY #PSGTFC pic.twitter.com/FjWtPc3Vck
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) February 4, 2023
He said: “We had a tough start to the match with Renato’s injury early on. I decided to bring on El Chadaille [Bitshiabu] very quickly, he’s been showing for many weeks that he’s Ligue 1 level.
“We knew Toulouse’s quality from set-pieces. They are one of the most dangerous teams in Ligue 1 from set-pieces. But overall we controlled the game. We had to get back on level terms and take risks against a very compact defence.
“In that sense, Achraf, as he did against Montpellier even though the goal was ruled out, this time scored with his left foot.
“Then the second half was much better for us going forward even though we needed to be careful of the balance of the team. Marqui [Marquinhos] and Chad, who I think won the ball most today, were great centre-backs today, one young and one with experience were able to stop the Toulouse counter-attacks.
“We were able, thanks to Leo’s quality and his determination, to take the team to victory and win in a game that seemed like we should have won.”
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