Week 25 review: PSG prepare for Madrid as Monaco hit back
By S. Willis
PSG had Neymar Jr to thank for a somewhat shaky 1-0 win in Toulouse as their trip to face Real Madrid looms; Monaco's big win in Angers took them back to second as OM drew and OL's skid continued 2-0 at home to Rennes.
Paris Saint-Germain travelled to Toulouse without club and Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Edinson Cavani, the Uruguayan having a rest before Wednesday's trip to Spain, and although his incisive play up front was missed, Neymar Jr took charge and cracked the Toulouse defence to clinch a welcome win.
"I'm very happy and I think the team showed a very good attitude. We won 1-0, but we controlled the game. We had chances to score more goals, but the opposition goalkeeper played really well and we hit the woodwork three times," said PSG boss Unai Emery, whose impending opponents Real Madrid scored a big 5-2 home win over Real Sociedad in the league on Saturday. "But it's good preparation, for the rhythm and the confidence. We played well and we're going to be able to prepare for Real well."
Jovetic fires as Falcao-less Monaco surge
The win also kept Paris 11 points clear of second place, a slot filled this week by a resurgent Monaco side who, despite the injury absence of top scorer and captain Radamel Falcao, thumped Angers SCO 4-0 - thanks in no small part to a two-goal turn from Stevan Jovetic - to make it three wins in a row in all competitions.
"We played really well with a lot of quality, but also a lot of control and impact. We were always at it, well balanced," said coach Leonardo Jardim, who saw fit-again France international Thomas Lemar pop up with the assist for Jovetic's second. "It gives us confidence. It's never easy to play against Angers, who are a well organised team."
OM checked by Sainté
The win took Monaco two points clear of third-placed Marseille, who dropped those points by allowing Robert Beric a late equaliser in an exciting 2-2 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Despite excellent goals for Florian Thauvin and Morgan Sanson, OM - who saw 'keeper Steve Mandanda go off injured just before the break - were caught by Les Verts' resurgence and will be looking for greater focus as they travel to SC Braga in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday.
Although the point taken guaranteed Marseille of ending the weekend in third place, Rudi Garcia's side now have a four-point lead over fourth, Olympique Lyonnais stretching their skid to three league matches with a shock 2-0 home loss to Stade Rennais.
With their Europa League round of 32 trip to Villarreal looming, Bruno Genesio's men failed to find a way past Rennes, who had Wahbi Khazri and James Lea Siliki to thank for the win - which broke their own three-match losing streak in all competitions - as they slot into eighth place.
"There is disappointment, frustration, anger. We are all disappointed tonight because we didn't do what we had set out to do," said OL boss Genesio. "We must now show that we are strong enough to come back. We will recover well for Thursday's match [against Villarreal]."
Nantes' wings clipped
Claudio Ranieri's Nantes have been looking to break free at the head of the peloton of teams chasing fifth place, and although the club's Argentine top scorer Emiliano Sala struck twice at home to LOSC, Christophe Galtier's side hit back, with Nicolas Pepe levelling matters 2-2 with minutes left to keep his side out of the drop zone.
Montpellier may have been knocked out of both cups in recent weeks, but Michel Der Zakarian's side have stayed on track in the league and claimed a third win in four outings as Giovanni Sio struck his sixth of the season in a 1-0 victory away to rock-bottom Metz on Saturday. Montpellier climb to fifth.
Girondins in stride
Bordeaux have turned things right around under new boss Gustavo Poyet and face their Week 26 trip to Marseille from the lofty heights of seventh place following a thrilling 3-2 win in Amiens. Poyet's men will need to be wary of late pressure however, having conceded twice in the final 11 minutes.
OGC Nice's bid to get back in the race for Europe stalled again on Saturday with a 3-2 loss in Dijon. Changhoon Kwon's late strike for the home side condemned Lucien Favre's men to a third loss on the bounce and a dip to ninth place just days before a Europa League trip to Russia to take on FC Lokomotiv Moscow.
Strasbourg celebrated their qualification for the Coupe de France quarter-finals by dispatching Troyes - who were knocked out of the cup by Ligue 2's Lens - 2-1 at home, while EA Guingamp and SM Caen played out a 0-0 draw in Brittany on Saturday.