Week 19 review: Half-way and PSG show no signs of slowing

Ligue 1 Conforama > News
21/12/2017

By S. Willis

Paris Saint-Germain turned on the style to ensure a nine-point lead heading into the winter break; the rest of the top five sides all followed suit while FC Metz bagged a first home win of the season as crises deepened for Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.

As eye-catching as it was, Parisian sensation Kylian Mbappé's new bleached hairstyle couldn't keep the attention off his superb birthday performance - an assist for Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Edinson Cavani's superb 19th of the season and a powerful goal of his own - as the capital club beat SM Caen 3-1 at the Parc des Princes to maintain their nine-point cushion heading into the winter break.

"Of course it's a good feeling to have won our last game of the year. Caen defended very well, but we still managed to score goals, even if we could have scored more, and also avoided conceding that penalty late on. I think it was a good game for the fans. The team worked well," said PSG boss Unai Emery before heaping praise on the birthday boy. "I'm happy for Kylian Mbappé, who celebrated his birthday with an assist and a goal. He did a great job for the team tonight."

Jardim: 'Make the most of the holidays'

Things didn't go so smoothly for Monaco, who conceded an early opener to Rennes before emblematic captain Radamel Falcao and young striker Keita Baldé struck to clinch a 2-1 win that keeps the principality side in second, ahead of Lyon, if only on goal difference.

"After a string of four or five matches in December, the last one is always tough. Rennes did better in the second half but I think we deserved to win," said Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim. "Now we need to make the most of the holidays with our loved ones and come back with a lot of energy for the second half of the season."

OL hold firm

Had Lyon not concede a late penalty in their 2-1 win in Toulouse, they would have gone ahead of Monaco on head-to-head record (they won 3-2 when the sides met in Week 9), but coach Bruno Genesio wasn't complaining.

"Once again we showed exceptional mental strength. My squad get along well and you could see that in the way they play for each other," said the OL boss, for whom captain Nabil Fekir opened the scoring with a personal-best 13th of the season. "Having 41 points at the break is great. We're proud but nothing is settled yet; we're only half-way through the season."

Christmas presents

Marseille also had a fight on their hands to keep pace, going behind to an early strike from Troyes before Dimitri Payet, Luiz Gustavo and Valère Germain constructed a classy fight-back to keep the southern giants in fourth place.

"This is an important win, as it allows us to go on holidays calmly," said OM boss Rudi Garcia. "We needed to move on from the frustration of the last match [Week 18's loss in Lyon] and give a Christmas present to ourselves and the fans while keeping pace with Monaco and Lyon."

Metz break duck

Meanwhile bottom side FC Metz broke their duck at home after what has been a tough first half of the season. Frédéric Hantz's men, who have been slowly gathering steam since the change of coach in late October, turned on the style against promoted Strasbourg and ran out 3-1 winners to spark hope of a revival despite sitting seven points adrift at the foot of the Ligue 1 Conforama table.

"Things have been going well for the last two weeks. Things have been going our way a bit more," said Hantz, whose side made it two wins in a row for the first time this season. "My first month here was very disappointing: I was shocked to see a squad that had almost no belief left. It was tough for everyone at the club, but the lads have faced up to it. This was our first home win, and that's important; it gives us hope for the future. This is a great way to end the first half of the season."

Nice held, Bordeaux woes deepen

Claudio Ranieri's FC Nantes denied an excellent Amiens SC side what would have been just a second home win of the season 1-0 as Argentine striker Emiliano Sala hit the only goal of the game; OGC Nice had to make do with just a single point after Anwar El Ghazi's late strike saw LOSC stave off what would have been a fourth loss in as many matches 1-1. 

Nice go into the break in sixth after sitting in 18th as recently as Week 14, but they will have to watch out for seventh-placed Montpellier, who piled misery on struggling Bordeaux with a 2-0 win at the Matmut Atlantique that piled the pressure on Girondins coach Jocelyn Gourvennec, whose job is under increasing pressure following a run of just one win in their last 13 matches in all competitions.

Angers show the way

Saint-Etienne's woes also continued, Les Verts falling 2-1 to a late strike from EA Guingamp's Jimmy Briand on the very evening that Jean-Louis Gasset was promoted to head coach at the expense of Julien Sablé. Meanwhile Angers SCO sparked hopes of a revival in the second half of the season as they belied their 19th place with a 2-1 win over Dijon FCO, who sit in tenth.

 

>> VIDEO: Official match highlights of all the Week 19 action

>> Week 19 reactions - Emery: 'A good feeling'

>> MATCH REPORTS

>> LEAGUE TABLES








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