Week 14 review: Paris topple champions, widen lead
By S. Willis
Paris Saint-Germain went nine points clear atop the Ligue 1 Conforama standings with their 2-1 win away to champions Monaco on Sunday, while Lyon snuck into second place with a 5-0 hammering of OGC Nice.
Paris Saint-Germain have been in ominous form all season, but on Sunday night they faced a defining test away to champions AS Monaco and, despite a relatively modest scoreline, asserted their dominance over the league with a 2-1 win that took them nine points clear atop the Ligue 1 Conforama standings just days after their record-breaking UEFA Champions League win over Celtic.
"We're happy with the three points. It's important to carve out a decent lead. The team produced a lot in attack but needs to do better in terms of finishing. We deserved the win, but it should have come by a much bigger margin," explained Emery, for whom Kylian Mbappé missed several clear-cut chances in his first match against the club he left in the summer. "Still, we did show that, this season, we are the stronger side. No rivals in France? Marseille are in excellent form. Lyon are on a hot streak and Monaco are still Monaco."
Jardim: 'Not happy'
Emery's opposite number Leonardo Jardim, meanwhile, was keen to leave PSG with the tag of title favourites.
"I don't think that we can say Monaco have lost the title. In France, there is only one club that can claim the title as their objective [PSG]," declared the Portuguese before calling for greater toughness and resilience from his side, who crashed out of Europe in mid-week. "I'm not happy. We can do more. We have to work physically, mentally and tactically but we also have to work on our character. The big message from tonight: you can always do more. But you also have to admit that the opposition had more quality and that won them the match."
OL in fearsome Fekir-less form
Earlier on Sunday, Olympique Lyonnais made the trip south to take on last season's revelation side OGC Nice and, even without captain and top scorer Nabil Fekir, out due to illness, Bruno Genesio's men put on a show and won 5-0 over their ten-man hosts to claim second place on the table.
"We'd already played without Nabil Fekir at Troyes and the scoreline here shows the quality of the squad. We can rotate and the team still performs well," explained Genesio, whose side clinched a place in the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds with a 4-0 hammering of Limassol on Thursday.
Favre takes the blame
Nice also clinched a place in the Europa League's round of 16 this week but coach Lucien Favre - coming under increasing criticism with his side now in the drop zone (18th) was far from happy following the humiliating reverse in front of the club's fervent fans.
"This was the worst match we've played since I've been at the club. We weren't able to win the ball back and we played high up the pitch at the wrong times," conceded the Swiss tactician, whose side have won just twice in their last ten outings in all competitions. "Defensively, we were cut open and you can't afford to be cut open like that. Today wasn't good and I'm willing to be the focal point for the criticism."
Thauvin, Khazri fire
Like Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique de Marseille also made the most of Monaco's slip-up, their Florian Thauvin-powered 1-0 win over Guingamp taking them to within a point of the third-placed champions.
Claudio Ranieri's FC Nantes had been looking to steal a march on the pack chasing PSG as they took on Rennes in the derby on Friday night, but Les Rouge et Noir had other ideas and instead handed new boss Sabri Lamouchi his first win - 2-1 thanks to a Wahbi Khazri double - since taking over from Christian Gourcuff just before the international break.
Montpellier on song, Sainté stop rot
SM Caen cemented their place in the top half of the table with a solid 1-0 win at home to a Bordeaux side now winless in seven, and the Normandy side now have Montpellier breathing down their necks in seventh place following a 3-0 win that left LOSC - whose coach Marcelo Bielsa was 'temporarily suspended' by the club - more mired than ever in the bottom three (19th).
Under the guidance of the new coaching duo of Jean-Louis Gasset and Julien Sablé, AS Saint-Etienne stopped a two-match skid with a 2-2 draw at home to promoted RC Strasbourg. The result was enough to keep Les Verts a point clear of a mid-table pack comprising Rennes and Amiens SC, ESTAC Troyes and Dijon FCO, who scored wins away to FC Metz (2-0) at home to Angers SCO (3-0) and over Toulouse (3-1) respectively.