Week 15 review: Marseille emerge as PSG stretch lead
Marseille emerged as real contenders as they rocketed into second place with a 3-0 win in Metz after Lyon and Monaco both fell to shock defeats, but Neymar-powered leaders PSG are now ten points clear atop the table.
Olympique de Marseille now lead the chasing pack behind Paris Saint-Germain, their 3-0 win away to bottom club Metz - their seventh in an undefeated run of ten Ligue 1 Conforama matches - taking them two points clear of Olympique Lyonnais and champions AS Monaco.
"We got the job done. We're happy that the others [Lyon and Monaco] didn't win," said OM boss Rudi Garcia, whose side were last this high on the table all the way back at the end of the season's opening round, when they kicked off the campaign with a 3-0 win against Dijon. "We've moved into second but the end of the season is still along way off. Now is not the time to get carried away. Our objective remains the same: a top-four finish."
Neymar takes charge
OM now sit two points clear of Lyon and Monaco, and could have been within seven points of Paris Saint-Germain had the league leaders not had Neymar Jr to thank for breaking the deadlock in a tight match at home to promoted ESTAC Troyes.
"We were up against a side that defended very well. They caused us plenty of problems," said coach Unai Emery, who saw Neymar Jr open the scoring and then provide the assist for Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Edinson Cavani to bag his 17th of the season. "It was a good challenge for us, because we are always looking to improve. Winning matches easily can sometimes lead to a false sense of security. We had to answer the challenge and, in the end, we did that."
Masterless Dogues bite
Olympique Lyonnais, coming off a resounding 5-0 win in Nice in Week 14, copped the biggest shock of their season as they fell to strugglers LOSC 2-1 at home - despite Les Dogues' being without a coach following the suspension of Marcelo Bielsa.
"It's obvious that this win will do us good. Tonight we saw our lads play as a team, which in itself is a great improvement on our last match [a 3-0 defeat in Montpellier]. We know we have the talent; we have never had any doubts about our players," said LOSC president Gérard Lopez before addressing the situation with Bielsa. "There was no meeting with Marcelo Bielsa, because he didn't want to come. We've accepted the LFP's ruling [a hearing with the LFP's Judicial Commission, requested by Bielsa, is set for December 12], and we continue to work on our project."
Ranieri: 'Reconnect our brain'
Meanwhile champions Monaco were looking to bounce back from back-to-back UEFA Champions League and Ligue 1 Conforama defeats to RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, but fell to a dramatic late strike from former coach Claudio Ranieri's FC Nantes.
"It was important to get back to winning ways after two defeats on the trot. We won against the champions, so these three points are golden. We played a good match and I'm satisfied with my team," said EPL winning coach Ranieri. "We were vigilant, especially from free-kicks, which are one of Monaco's strengths. My players were focused and shut down the spaces. After two defeats, it was important to reconnect our brain."
The win took Les Canaris to within two points of fourth-placed Monaco and third-placed Lyon, with a three-point lead over sixth-placed SM Caen, who made in three in a row undefeated with a 0-0 draw in Strasbourg.
Rennes, Amiens in form
Two points back sit Montpellier, who also played out a scoreless draw, in Guingamp, level with Stade Rennais FC, who continued to show promise under new coach Sabri Lamouchi, coming back from a goal down to beat Anger SCO 2-1 in Angers.
Amiens SC are also on 21 points following their third win in a row, the 2-1 triumph over Dijon coming on the back of wins over LOSC and FC Metz in an unbeaten run of eight matches (five wins) in all competitions.
"The amount of energy my players put into the game against a very good Dijon side was incredible. My players surprised me tonight," said Amiens coach Christophe Pélissier. "Not in our wildest dreams did we think we would come close to 17 points at the winter break and we already have 21."
Girondins, Aiglons stop rot
Bordeaux close out the top half of the table, their 3-0 dismissal of Saint-Etienne cauterizing a winless run of seven matches (five defeats), while OGC Nice also stopped the rot, their come-from-behind 2-1 win in Toulouse - clinched despite being a man down following Dante's 40th-minute sending-off - lifting them out of the drop zone and into 14th place.