Week 25 Review: Monaco, PSG keep up the pace
By A. Scott
Kylian Mbappé inspired leaders AS Monaco to another big victory in Week 25 and Paris Saint-Germain kept up the pressure, but OGC Nice lost ground in the title race.
On a weekend that featured 37 goals in 10 games, Ligue 1's leading scorers Monaco led by example as they crushed FC Metz 5-0 at the Stade Louis II. The 18-year-old Mbappé was the star of the show with a hat-trick as he became the youngest player to score three times in one Ligue 1 game since Jérémy Menez in 2005. Radamel Falcao also netted twice to take him to 16 league goals for the season.
"It was an accomplished performance from top to bottom by the whole team," said Mbappé. "I warmed up well, felt good and was lucky enough to get a hat-trick. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar are phenomena, I am still a long way from their level."
A fine evening for Monaco was marred by the serious knee injury suffered by Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Boschilia, but the principality club are still rolling along at an average of three league goals a game and they remain three points clear of defending champions PSG.
PSG warm up for Barcelona
Unai Emery's side warmed up for their UEFA Champions League date with Barcelona by easing to a 3-0 win at Girondins de Bordeaux. Edinson Cavani scored twice to move onto 25 league goals for the campaign, with Ángel Di María also on target at the Matmut Atlantique.
"The team played with the spirit we were looking for. They showed confidence and high standards and played with drive and motivation to get all three points for our fans," said Emery, whose team have won 10 and drawn one of their last 11 matches in all competitions.
There is a hint that it is becoming a two-horse race for the title as Nice dropped points again in a 2-2 draw away to Stade Rennais FC in Brittany. The result means Lucien Favre's side have won just twice in their last seven league outings and drop five points behind leaders Monaco, but in the circumstances this was an excellent result.
Morgan Amalfitano had put Rennes in front early on his home debut and Giovanni Sio doubled their lead, but Anastasios Donis came on for the injured Alassane Pléa and grabbed his first Ligue 1 goal before Valentin Eysseric got a late equaliser.
Lyon lose again
Third-place Nice are now 13 points better off than Olympique Lyonnais, who slumped to their 10th league defeat of the season, going down 2-1 at EA Guingamp. Alexandre Lacazette had put OL in front with his 20th league goal of the campaign but Moustapha Diallo levelled and Nicolas Benezet marked his first Ligue 1 start in almost a year with the winner for the Bretons.
Lyon's great rivals AS Saint-Etienne boosted their European prospects and warmed up for their Europa League trip to Manchester United in style, beating bottom club FC Lorient 4-0 to record their biggest victory of the season. Loïc Perrin, Jordan Veretout and Romain Hamouma all scored before new signing Jorginho marked his first start for the club with a late goal to seal the win. "We'll savour this win, but we won't get carried away," insisted Sainté coach Christophe Galtier.
Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille continue to be frustratingly inconsistent as they lost 3-2 away to FC Nantes. Diego Carlos, Mariusz Stepinski and Adrien Thomasson all netted for Les Canaris with Bafétimbi Gomis grabbing a brace in vain for OM.
OM 'blowing hot and cold'
"Tonight we fell back into a lot of our bad habits, and that's ok, that happens, but repeating our errors over and over is not something I can accept. OM are blowing hot and cold and that just won't cut it in Ligue 1," moaned Marseille coach Rudi Garcia.
Elsewhere, Toulouse FC crushed nine-man SC Bastia 4-1 with Martin Braithwaite scoring twice and Andy Delort also among the scorers, while Isaac Mbenza got his first two Ligue 1 goals in Montpellier Hérault SC's 3-0 win at AS Nancy Lorraine.
Pierrick Capelle and Romain Thomas netted for Angers SCO in a 2-1 win at LOSC, for whom Yves Bissouma scored a stunner and was later sent off. Mehdi Abeid and Loïs Diony were on target in Dijon FCO's 2-0 win over SM Caen.