Week 24 Review: As you were at top of table
By A. Scott
Olympique Lyonnais maintain a two-point lead over their nearest rivals at the end of Week 24, a weekend in which none of the sides in the top five managed to win.
The game of the weekend between leaders Lyon and reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain lived up to expectations, a thrilling encounter at the Stade de Gerland ending in a 1-1 draw. A fabulous move resulted in Clinton Njie giving OL a 31st-minute lead only for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to earn Paris a deserved point with a second-half penalty that took his tally for the season to 10 league goals.
"We have to acknowledge that we were up against a great Paris side and so there is satisfaction at getting the draw," said Lyon coach Hubert Fournier, who was also grateful to goalkeeper Anthony Lopes for keeping his side in the game with a host of crucial saves. PSG coach Laurent Blanc added: "You could think the draw was the right result although I thought one team created more chances than the other. I have to say that Lyon's best player tonight was the goalkeeper and that proves certain things in terms of how the game went."
Early impact for Ocampos
The result ended Lyon's run of 10 consecutive home wins in Ligue 1 but it kept them two points clear of Paris, who are now unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions, and Olympique de Marseille. Marcelo Bielsa's side came from behind to draw 1-1 with Stade Rennais FC in Brittany with debutant Lucas Ocampos coming off the bench to equalise in the second half after Ola Toivonen's goal had separated the teams at the break.
Marseille ended the game with 10 men after the sending-off of Mario Lemina and have now gone nine away matches without a win in all competitions, a run stretching back to the start of October. However, Bielsa was pleased with the impact of new recruit Ocampos, signed on loan from AS Monaco.
"He gives us more aggression in attack, a bit more presence and a bit more depth. After the first half, we needed our attack to endanger our opponents more, and he gave us that," said the Argentine of his compatriot.
Saint-Etienne, Monaco slip up
AS Saint-Etienne in fourth place remain seven points adrift of the podium after a 3-3 draw with struggling RC Lens in a remarkable game at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Recent signing Landry N'Guemo gave Les Verts an early lead and Yohan Mollo put the hosts further ahead in the second half, only for a Yoann Touzghar brace, including a penalty, and a Pablo Chavarría effort to turn the game on its head. However, substitute Mevlut Erding struck late on to rescue a point for stuttering Sainté, who have now gone four league games without a win.
Nevertheless, Monaco missed the chance to climb above Saint-Etienne into fourth when they lost 1-0 to EA Guingamp in Brittany, their first defeat in the league since the end of November. Dorian Lévêque was the unlikely hero for the hosts at the Stade du Roudourou as Guingamp took all three points despite having Moustapha Diallo sent off in the first half.
Girondins de Bordeaux were the only side in the top nine to record a win, beating Evian-Thonon-Gaillard 1-0 in Annecy to claim their first victory in seven attempts in the league. Just back from the Africa Cup of Nations, Tunisian winger Wahbi Khazri underlined his importance to Willy Sagnol's side with the only goal of the game early on.
Bastia on a roll
Meanwhile, Montpellier Hérault SC suffered a first defeat in eight league games, going down 2-1 at home to LOSC Lille, who claimed a first win on their travels since August. Nolan Roux and Rony Lopes were on target for René Girard's side before Bryan Dabo grabbed a late consolation. Elsewhere, OGC Nice and FC Nantes shared the points in a goalless stalemate and SC Bastia followed up their Coupe de la Ligue semi-final triumph at Monaco in midweek with a 2-0 win against FC Metz in Corsica. Guido Milán was sent off for the visitors before François Kamano and a Ryad Boudebouz penalty secured the win for the hosts.
Without a league win since the start of November, Metz are a point adrift of Lens at the bottom of the table. Evian are also in the drop zone, two points behind Toulouse FC, who lost 2-0 at SM Caen, and four behind FC Lorient, who won 3-1 at Stade de Reims.