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Paris Saint-Germain ended Toulouse's impressive unbeaten start to 2023 with a 2-1 win in Ligue 1 at Parc des Princes on Saturday. Lionel Messi came up big with the go-ahead goal just before the hour mark and assist provider Achraf Hakimi was the scorer of the hosts' equalizer with a stunning first half strike.

However, despite Messi and Hakimi's heroics in the absence of injured superstar pair Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, Les Parisiens still felt extremely labored and underwhelming in victory. The likes of Carlos Soler, Hugo Ekitike, and the injured Renato Sanches all flattered to deceive once more with the latter taken off in tears after just 14 minutes.

Indeed, it was shaping up to be a rough afternoon in the French capital for Christophe Galtier's men when Branco van den Boomen put the away side in front from a well-executed set play.Toulouse thought they had doubled their lead only to be denied by the offside flag and that was the wakeup call PSG needed with Hakimi crashing home for 1-1 minutes later.

Messi's winner was sweetly struck as he swept home from outside the box after being teed up by the Morocco international but it was another example of minimum service from Les Parisiens. Van den Boomen demonstrated his free kick prowess again late on but this time it passed without incident for the home side.

"Leo held the team," said Galtier post-game. "The was not only the absence of Kylian and Ney, but also Sergio. He embraced his leadership role naturally both here and in midweek. He takes the initiative often, but you need to get the ball to him all the time. We were satisfied to win but also with our showing. We struggled in the first half, especially with Renato's injury. However, we conceded from the first free kick and generally struggled from set plays. We faced a low block, but got better in the second half."

Captain Marquinhos and the back line shipped a number of openings to an enterprising TFC side which looked every bit an unbeaten side in 2023 despite a lack of bite up top. Gianluigi Donnarumma also did himself no favors with his positioning from Van den Boomen's expertly struck first half set piece while Danilo Pereira is a known makeshift option in central defense with Sergio Ramos and Presnel Kimpembe both injured.

The midfield is arguably the most disappointing area of the field, though, with Soler, Sanches, Vitinha and Fabian Ruiz all struggling to replicate anywhere near the same level of creativity that Marco Verratti brings. It was little wonder that Messi and Ekitike spent long periods of the game struggling to get into shooting positions despite some favorable shot and possession numbers at full time where PSG ended up with 22 total shots and 570 total completed passes to Toulouse's 14 and 341.

"Our mentality was good, even if it was not our best showing," said captain Marquinhos after the match. "We need to keep this mentality of keeping on until the end. We are starting to get back to our pre-World Cup level. We needed a bit of time. It is a shame that we have a few injuries. That said, you have to know how to pick points up in the difficult moments. Match details do not count at the end of the season, only points do."

In many ways, flat showings like this are to be expected when PSG are missing Mbappe and Neymar but Messi adds that extra insurance policy for these sorts of tricky games. Most concerning, though, is that such a high quality collection of supporting players are offering such precious little in terms of the overall performances.

PSG have been labored since the FIFA 2022 World Cup and that appears set to continue despite this success. With Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League coming up later this month, it feels like the capital club are more vulnerable they have been at any other point this campaign.

Given that Mbappe is likely to miss at least the first leg of the tie with the Germans, there could be more of the same to follow and that familiar sinking feeling which regularly afflicts PSG around this time of year.