Edinson Cavani led Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Toulouse in front of injured spectators Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at the Parc des Princes.
Club record goalscorer Cavani netted a superb opener inside nine minutes to seemingly set the tone for PSG to soar to victory, yet the champions appeared to feel the absence of the world’s two most expensive players as their momentum waned.
Thomas Tuchel’s men were still able to hold on for a 14th consecutive victory to start the Ligue 1 season, but the story may well be different when Liverpool arrive in Paris on Wednesday for a make-or-break Champions League meeting.
PSG will hope to see Neymar and Mbappe on the pitch rather than in the stands for that match, having underwhelmed against modest domestic opponents.
With the focus on his absent team-mates, Cavani did not take long to provide a reminder of his talents. The forward claimed a loose ball in the area with his back to goal, turned brilliantly past his marker and thumped a volley into the net.
However, PSG’s suffocating possession initially led to few further openings and, after Cavani had a second goal disallowed, Toulouse threatened with a couple of speculative efforts before the break.
There was more urgency to the hosts’ play at the start of the second half and Thomas Meunier headed over, but that just about proved to be the extent of their attacking ambition.
Christopher Jullien blazed over at the other end when he should have equalised, before Presnel Kimpembe crucially intervened on the goal-line to protect the points in a nervy finish.
What does it mean? PSG far from convincing
PSG’s possession figure rarely strayed far from the 75 per cent mark, yet Marco Verratti and Co had some difficulty converting this control into chances. Tuchel will hope this does not prove to be a sign of things to come in the Liverpool game, with Neymar and Mbappe perhaps returning, but the Reds will offer a far greater threat going the other way and could potentially punish PSG.
Cavani bears the load
Cavani was scoring for PSG at a staggering rate long before Neymar and Mbappe came on the scene and so it was no surprise to see the Uruguay international thrive again under pressure. The forward took his early opportunity with style, saw a close-range header ruled out for offside and ran Toulouse ragged throughout.
— Ligue1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) November 24, 2018
Draxler’s hollow words
Julian Draxler promised on Friday that he was capable of stepping into the sizeable shoes of Neymar and Mbappe, yet the lack of a creative spark was evident from PSG in the first half. The Germany international did not lay on a single chance for his team-mates. If PSG are relying on Draxler against Liverpool, he must improve considerably.
That big clash with Liverpool awaits PSG on Wednesday, with the French champions hoping to be able to welcome back their star duo.
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