Week 20 Review: Monaco, PSG gain ground
By I. Holyman
AS Monaco took advantage of a stumble by OGC Nice to move to the top of the Ligue 1 table in Week 20 while Paris Saint-Germain also gained ground in the title race.
Lucien Favre's league leaders were held to a goalless draw by struggling FC Metz in Sunday's early kick-off, leaving the door open open to their Côte d'Azur neighbours. Monaco marched imperiously through, brusquely pushing Nice aside as they moved to the top of the table with a 4-1 win at Olympique de Marseille.
"We deserved to win," said ASM boss Leonardo Jardim, who saw Bernardo Silva score twice for his side to move them ahead of Nice on goal difference. "In the first half, the two teams played well. We knew Marseille are good, but we hurt them in their defensive transitions, which was the key to the game."
WATCH: Draxler's dream L1 debut
It was a Julian Draxler goal that earned PSG the start they wanted to their Ligue 1 campaign of 2017, and moved Unai Emery's men to within three points of top spot. Making his French top-flight debut, the Germany international found the net shortly before half-time to give the reigning champions victory at Stade Rennais FC.
"He worked well, scored a good goal, and brought quality to the team," said Emery after registering a second successive Ligue 1 win and a third consecutive triumph in all competitions. "He produced a very good performance. It's positive for his adaptation. He has great individual qualities, and the ability to help the team."
WATCH: Lacazette lights up Caen, but loses
With Ligue 1's leading scorer Edinson Cavani (18 goals) failing to find the net, Olympique Lyonnais' Alexandre Lacazette took the opportunity to close on PSG's Uruguay international atop the scoring charts with a brace on Sunday. But Lacazette was the only Lyon player to gain anything from the trip to Normandy where SM Caen pulled off a shock 3-2 win with Ivan Santini scoring a second-half winner.
"We were just totally absent," said OL coach Bruno Genesio, whose side are now eight points adrift of the top three, despite having looked like they may salvage something after cancelling out the hosts' two-goal advantage only to concede again. "After the third goal, we started to play again. Perhaps we need to start matches with a handicap to make sure we're on the ball from the first minute."
OL will have been all the more frustrated by their result as En Avant Guingamp who started the weekend in fifth place, had lost 24 hours earlier. Antoine Kombouaré's men appear to be solid challengers for a European qualifying place, but they were undone by a late rally from FC Lorient. It was led by Majeed Waris, who scored two of Les Merlus' three goals in the last 18 minutes to win 3-1 and lift his club off the bottom of the table.
WATCH: Waris works his magic for Lorient
LOSC Lille were not able to give long-standing president Michel Seydoux a winning send-off, but Nicolas de Préville's strike 19 minutes from time meant he departed on a 1-1 draw at home to AS Saint-Étienne. Girondins de Bordeaux were unable to take advantage of Les Verts' stumble as they were held to the same scoreline at Angers SCO.
Toulouse FC fell foul of FC Nantes' revival under Sergio Concieçao. The former Portugal international had seen his team beaten in the Coupe de la Ligue in midweek, but Emiliano Sala's 20th-minute goal ensured Les Canaris won a third successive league game to ease themselves into mid-table.
AS Nancy-Lorraine, the side that defeated Nantes in midweek, eased their relegation fears with Issiar Dia's goal giving them a 1-0 win over SC Bastia, who had Allan Saint-Maximin dismissed late on (87'). The Corsicans ended Week 20 in the bottom three as Dijon FCO picked up a point from their trip to Montpellier Hérault SC, though Olivier Dall'Oglio's men would have had all three but for Jérôme Roussillon's 87th-minute equaliser.