Week 15 Review: Lyon hold top spot as trio impress
By A. Scott
Olympique Lyonnais continue to sit pretty atop the Ligue 1 table after a weekend that featured standout performances by OGC Nice, Olympique de Marseille and Stade Rennais FC.
Three days after taking Marseille apart with a 4-1 victory at the Stade Vélodrome, Lyon won again on Saturday, this time grinding out a 1-0 home victory against reigning champions Montpellier Hérault SC.
Hat-trick hero in midweek, Bafétimbi Gomis was decisive once more, netting the only goal of the game in the first half as OL made it seven wins from eight home games and inflicted a first defeat in six matches on Montpellier. The result sets Lyon up perfectly for a month that will see them travel to both Saint-Etienne and Paris Saint-Germain, two of their closest challengers.
"It was great to build on our good performance at Marseille," said Lyon coach Rémi Garde. "We can enjoy this win and the fact that we are top of the table. To be top before going to play Saint-Etienne is a pleasant feeling."
Marseille mightily impressive
Marseille are two points behind in second place after bouncing back from their Olympico mauling with a mightily impressive 2-1 victory away to Stade Brestois 29 in Brittany. It was a performance full of fight and character from Élie Baup's men, as they inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Brest and became the first Marseille side ever to win at the Stade Francis-Le Blé.
Joey Barton played a starring role for OM, setting up both his side's goals, the first for Souleymane Diawara and the second for André Ayew, either side of a Charlison Benschop equaliser for the hosts, and Marseille coach Baup was full of praise for the Englishman and for his team as a whole.
"Our commitment was formidable," he said. "I was waiting for a reaction after the Lyon loss and it was a good reaction. Barton is fresher than the other players, and that is an encouraging sign for the future."
Weekend to forget for PSG
Nice made it another weekend to forget for Paris Saint-Germain, as they beat the capital club 2-1 in front of the biggest crowd at the Stade du Ray for many a year. Valentin Eysseric, on loan with Les Aiglons from Ligue 2 Monaco, scored a late winner after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had netted his 13th of the season from a free-kick to cancel out Éric Bauthéac's opener.
The Nice coach, Claude Puel, maintains his record of never having lost at home to PSG with any of the clubs he has managed in the top flight, and his team have now taken 13 points from a possible 15 to climb up to ninth. That is in stark contrast with PSG, who are down to fourth after a third defeat in five.
"At the moment the whole team annoys me," said PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, who also promised to make a "radical change" in a bid to arrest his team's alarming slide.
Remarkable Rennes comeback
Rennes produced a remarkable comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 at struggling ESTAC Troyes, just three days after beating the same team in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue. Benjamin Nivet and Stéphane Darbion both netted in the first half for the hosts, but Romain Alessandrini and Julien Féret hauled the Bretons level before Jonathan Pitroipa netted an 89th-minute winner as Rennes made it seven wins from nine games. Meanwhile, Troyes, who had youngster Corentin Jean sent off late on, are now eight points from safety.
In the absence of top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Saint-Etienne had to settle for a goalless draw away to AC Ajaccio in Corsica, although they still climb a place to third. Valenciennes got back to winning ways as an early Foued Kadir goal proved enough for the northerners to beat struggling Stade de Reims 1-0, while Girondins de Bordeaux were held to a 2-2 draw at home by FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. Loïc Poujol put Sochaux in front, but a Jérôme Roussillon own-goal and a Yoan Gouffran strike turned the game around before substitute Rafael Dias made it 2-2 with a brilliant late free-kick.
Lille were held to a goalless draw at home by SC Bastia, and the points were shared in freezing Annecy too, as Nancy's Yohan Mollo cancelled out a brilliant Brice Dja Djédjé opener for Evian Thonon Gaillard in a 1-1 draw. And Benjamin Corgnet got the only goal of the game as FC Lorient beat Toulouse 1-0.