Week 16 Review: OL five points clear as all bar PSG stumble
By D. Crossan
Leaders Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain - now up to second - were the only clubs in the top ten at the start of play to win in Week 16.
OL moved on to 34 points and extended their advantage at the top to five points with a customary good result at Saint-Etienne in the Rhône derby on Sunday. 1-0 winners thanks to substitute Michel Bastos' 65th-minute free-kick, which flashed through the wrong-footed Stéphane Ruffier's attempt to save, the seven-time champions are guaranteed to be sitting in first place when they pitch up at the Parc des Princes on Sunday to take on PSG. OL were down to ten men at the moment of Bastos' strike as former ASSE full-back Mouhamadou Dabo had been sent off in the 56th minute for a headbutt on Max-Alain Gradel. Saint-Etienne also finished a man light as substitute Alejandro Alonso was dismissed late on.
Garde: "No reason to think about the PSG game straight away"
Lyon coach Rémi Garde is refusing to get carried away and is taking each game as it comes: "In my mind, we've not created a gap at the top and we won't get carried away. If we don't keep going then it means nothing. There's no reason to think about the PSG game straight away. The team is moving forward and our first thought now is Wednesday's game against [bottom club] Nancy."
PSG were impressive 4-0 victors at home to Evian the previous day with Carlo Ancelotti's new 4-4-2 system working just as well as it had in the midweek Champions League victory over Porto which saw PSG top their section. Ligue 1 top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic (28') moved on to 14 goals for the season and added an assist for Ezequiel Lavezzi (31'). Italian international midfielder Thiago Motta (84') and sub Kevin Gameiro (86') added the gloss to the scoreline on an afternoon when midfielder Javier Pastore flourished. Evian slipped back into the bottom three.
Ancelotti: "Good attitude"
Ancelotti said: "We played well and it was a good team performance. We played good attacking football and showed a good attitude. Everything went well in this important match. With four forwards on the pitch then if they don't do their defensive work then it becomes more difficult. It's not a problem with the system and it concerns the attitude of the players. We have to keep working now that we've found the right solution on the field."
OM second home loss in row
OM dropped from second to third - behind PSG on goal difference - after their second straight home loss, following up the 4-1 reverse to OL with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of a Lorient side recording only their second away victory of the season. OM were up against it from the moment Charles Kaboré was sent off seven minutes before the break for fouling Jérémie Aliadière in the box. Aliadière tucked away the penalty before Benjamin Corgnet and Kévin Monnet-Paquet added second-half goals as Lorient climbed to eighth.
Fourth to seventh all have 26 points with Saint-Etienne above Valenciennes, Bordeaux and Rennes on goal difference. Valenciennes coach Daniel Sanchez rotated his squad with an eye on Tuesday's home game with PSG as his side needed a Massadio Haïdara own goal to salvage a 1-1 draw at Nancy. Bordeaux drew 0-0 at Reims and Rennes, who'd come back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Troyes in Week 15, were pegged back from two goals up to 2-2 at home to Brest.
Toulouse, Lille continue to struggle
Toulouse drew 0-0 with Bastia on Friday and have now won just one of their last six, while Lille are also in the midst of a slump. The 2011 champions handed a league debut to Steeve Elana at Sochaux, as double-winning keeper Mickaël Landreau had left the club during the week, but were held 1-1 despite Nolan Roux breaking LOSC's 378-minute league goal drought. Rudi Garcia's side have taken only two points from their last four games and are now 11th.
Reigning champions Montpellier are improving and were convincing 3-0 home winners over Ajaccio. Second-bottom Troyes suffered heartbreak for the second week running as in-form Nice forward Dario Cvitanich equalised at the Stade de l'Aube in the 92nd minute to deny Troyes a second win of the season. Nice are unbeaten in six in the league.