WEEK 18 REVIEW: Top two falter
By I. Holyman
Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain stumbled in Week 18 as the top two both tasted defeat while Olympique Lyonnais sneaked up on Ligue 1's leading pair.
Marseille came into the penultimate round of games before the winter break on top of the table, and still found themselves there as they stepped out at the Stade Louis II on Sunday evening. However, Marcelo Bielsa's men missed out on the opportunity to stretch their advantage beyond the single point they have in hand over the chasing pack after Bernardo Silva's second-half goal gave the hosts a third straight league win.
"Our opponents weren't as strong as Paris and Lyon. It was a match we could have won," Bielsa complained. "It's true that in the first half we were able to play consistently, playing out from the back, but then we lost the ability to destabilise our opponents. Even like that, we had chances in the first half to score goals. We had a few problems that came to light in the second half."
If OM passed up an opportunity to stretch their advantage, Paris spurned the chance to apply pressure on their arch-rivals earlier in the day as they slipped to their first league defeat of the season, losing 1-0 at En Avant Guingamp following on the back of their midweek Champions League loss at Barcelona.
"I am not satisfied with my team. The first half greatly displeased me," said Paris coach Laurent Blanc, whose side succumbed to Jérémy Pied's early goal. "On the whole, Paris were too poor to win. We have had some hard times before but we always managed to react, to come back and draw or even win. Today, it was not enough. This defeat symbolises the difficulties we have encountered since the start of the championship. We have been lacking aggression for some time."
LOSC relief, Barrios on target
Defeats for the top two meant Lyon were the real beneficiaries of Week 18. They closed to within two points of OM and are just a single marker behind Paris thanks to a 3-0 win over SM Caen on Friday evening — striker Alexandre Lacazette scored a brace for the second successive league game to take his individual tally to a league-high 15 goals.
Ismaël Diomandé and Eduardo were both sent off after a first-half altercation as AS Saint-Etienne drew 0-0 at OGC Nice, though that result still reinforced Les Verts' hold on fourth place as closest challengers, Girondins de Bordeaux, were beaten 2-1 at FC Nantes on Saturday. Knocked out of the Europa League like Saint-Etienne in midweek, LOSC Lille, third last season, eased their worries with a 3-0 victory at home to Toulouse FC on Sunday, registering their first win in nine league outings.
Lucas Barrios scored for a second successive league game, but Montpellier Hérault SC could only draw 3-3 with RC Lens. Diego Rigonato struck twice, including an 80th-minute winner, as Stade de Reims won 3-2 at home to Evian-Thonon-Gaillard FC, while FC Lorient struck three times in the first half to beat FC Metz 3-1. SC Bastia moved off the foot of the table as they defeated Stade Rennais FC 2-0.