Week 29 review: PSG back to business, OL stop skid
PSG bounced back from their European exit with a 5-0 hammering of FC Metz, maintaining their 14-point lead atop the Ligue 1 Conforama standings; OL claimed victory 1-0 over SM Caen to brake a six-match winless run.
Following their 5-2 aggregate Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid in mid-week, Paris Saint-Germain sent an emphatic message to the rest of France by hammering FC Metz 5-0 and maintaining their 14-point lead. Youngster Christopher Nkunku bagged his first Ligue 1 Conforama brace and captain Thiago Silva scored his first of the season to leave Metz eight points adrift at the foot of the table.
“This allows us to turn the page. We kept our level up here and created a lot of chances. Christopher Nkunku [who scored twice] is working very hard in training. The best was for him to progress is by playing. We’re happy with him. To help the club, it’s important to give the young players playing time,” said PSG boss Unai Emery, who had top scorer Edinson Cavani out suspended for the match. “This was an important win for the team, and for the fans.”
Fekir blow just as OL get back on track
Meanwhile Olympique Lyonnais built on their 1-0 win away to CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Europa League’s round of 16 on Thursday buy claiming a first win in seven league outings, 1-0 against in-form SM Caen.
“With Nabil Fekir out injured and Houssem Aouar falling ill at the last minute, I’m very proud of my players and I’d like to congratulate them for what they did this evening,” said OL boss Bruno Genesio, who found out on Sunday that Fekir’s injury will see him sidelined for a further three weeks – missing the match at home to CSKA Moscow next Thursday, as well as the crucial Week 30 clash away to Marseille. “Nabil has already suffered a lot with injury in the past and we’ll get him back fully fit after the international window and he’ll be really motivated for the last month and a half of games.”
Monaco maintain course
Second-placed reigning champions AS Monaco held their position – four points clear of Marseille in third – with an accomplished 3-1 win away to Strasbourg, Stevan Jovetic opening the scoring with his seventh of the season before Rony Lopes and Fabinho made sure of the result.
“I think it’s a deserved win. In spite of the equaliser, we reacted very quickly, that’s good,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim. “When you win, you’re happy, you have the weekend to recover. Our rivals can drop points, but the most important thing is our game. We have to pick up three points regardless of what the others do.”
Marseille, looking to keep Monaco within reach, had their work cut out away to a Toulouse side who have improved greatly under new coach Mickaël Debève. However, a flash of brilliance from substitute Kostas Mitroglou, who slammed Dimitri Payet’s cross in off the underside of the bar with seconds left to go, sealed it 2-1 for Rudi Garcia’s men.
“It’s really a collective victory. We displayed a collective spirit at a very high level and indeed the victory came from the bench – that proves that everyone is important. In addition, it was ‘Mitro’ [Mitroglou] who won it for us, so that’s all the better, it will really kick-start his season,” said the OM boss, whose side take a 3-1 first-leg lead into their UEFA Europa League round of 16 appointment with Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. “We are happy, we showed character and composure.”
The Pléa show!
OGC Nice came screaming back into form with a thrilling 5-2 win away to Guingamp, Alassane Pléa bagging no fewer than four goals – his first Ligue 1 Conforama quadruple. France international and former OL star Clément Grenier shone for his new club, opening the scoring from the spot to claim his first goal in two years, but the Pléa show kicked into gear and sealed the result despite a flurry of three goals in the final ten minutes.
“The match ball? All the players signed it for me. I’ll put it in my living room, alongside the ball from Metz [he scored a hat-trick there last season]. I did well in Metz but today, I scored four goals and hit the post once from five shots, which is pretty efficient. Winning without Mario [Balotelli, out injured] is great, but I hope’s there when we take on PSG [in Week 30], because we’ll need him.”
Race for Europe hotting up
The win took Nice to seventh, just a point behind Nantes, who moved back up to fifth place with a 1-0 win that sent Troyes back in to the drop zone [18th], leaving Rennes in sixth after Sabri Lamouchi’s men snuck a 1-1 draw at home to Saint-Etienne thanks to Ismaila Sarr’s late leveller.
Meanwhile Montpellier slipped off the pace in the race for fifth, drawing 1-1 in Lille before a controversial pitch invasion that saw disgruntled LOSC fans attack their own players.
Bordeaux remain just inside the top ten despite being held to scoreless draw at home to Angers, while Dijon managed to avoid defeat as Wesley Said levelled in a 1-1 draw at home Amiens that leaves the promoted side two points clear of the bottom three.