League 1: Lionel Messi’s workload worries Galtier
After Lionel Messi’s second-half goal helped a lacklustre Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 2-1 to move eight points clear at the top of the French league, the team was urged to lighten their superstar’s load.
Messi struck with a typical curling strike in the 57th minute following a move with Morocco right back Achraf Hakimi, who drew PSG level late in the first half after freekick specialist Branco van den Boomen put Toulouse ahead in the 20th.
PSG were without injured forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar and relied heavily on Messi, who hit the post during stoppage time.
Without Messi, who has hit 98 goals for Argentina, PSG would have struggled more.
“Messi was a very important driving force for us, given his goal and the chances he created. I’m asking the team to play for him and to work for him. He must be relieved of certain duties,” coach Christophe Galtier said.
“Teammates must intensify their efforts to win the ball back and to create spaces, so that he can spray around his passes which are so rare.”
PSG need Messi with Bayern Munich coming up on February 14 in the first leg of their round-of-16 game in the Champions League.
Mbappe is out for at least three weeks after sustaining a left thigh tear. Neymar is having treatment for a sore adductor and missed his second straight game. PSG’s injury woes increased when Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches went off injured early with a thigh injury.
PSG had lost two and drawn one of their previous five matches, and fell behind in the 20th when Van den Boomen’s free-kick from the right flew past stranded goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into the left corner.
After Marquinhos hit the post with a header from Messi’s corner, PSG equalised with a fine 20m strike from Hakimi in the 38th.
But Marquinhos appeared offside on Messi’s goal, to the frustration of sarcastic-sounding Toulouse coach Philippe Montanier.
Kosovo winger Edon Zhegrova equalised with a volley and set up substitute Remy Cabella’s volleyed goal in the 85th minute as Lille won at Rennes 3-1.