Week 25 Review: So close!
By D. Crossan
Lille hung on at the top of the table by goal difference from Rennes after a 1-1 home draw with Lyon. Rennes were joined in taking maximum points by Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain as the title race grew ever closer.
LOSC were five points clear of the chasing pack come the end of Week 23. Defeat at Montpellier the following week – after a 13-game unbeaten Ligue 1 run – and a single point from their reunion with former coach Claude Puel have seen that whittled away to a goal difference advantage of seven. Ligue 1 top scorer Moussa Sow netted his 17th of the season to put LOSC ahead in the eighth minute but Kim Källström equalised in the 26th minute.
Lille defender Adil Rami said: “We could have won it but that goes for them too. We’re not feeling the pressure and we don’t doubt ourselves. Despite our breakdown in terms of picking up points, we’re still on track for finishing in the top three. We’re at Marseille next Sunday. The final straight will involve a combination of our mental strength and the state of our pitch.”
Rennes sealed their seventh straight home three-point haul with a comfortable home win over second-bottom Lens. Abdoulrazak Boukari opened the scoring against the club he left in January and Victor-Hugo Montano added a second in a 2-0 win, and was booked for his shirt-removing celebrations.
“In two weeks we’ve got five points back on Lille,” said Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti. “We’re not focusing on the table. There are still 13 games to play and, in a sense, we are the infiltrators here. We’ll try to stay up there, starting with Saturday’s game at Montpellier.”
Marseille are third, a point behind the leading duo, as André Ayew’s double saw them come from falling behind to a fine Julien Féret strike to win 2-1 at Nancy. It was OM’s fourth league victory in a row and revived memories of last season when they overturned a nine-point deficit on leaders Bordeaux with 16 games to play and went on to become champions. They face a real test in their next three games as they host Lille, travel to Rennes, and then welcome Paris Saint-Germain to town for the clasico.
OM: Lille then Rennes then PSG
OM coach Didier Deschamps said: “Direct confrontations between title rivals are always important but it’s very tight. If we beat Lille we can go in front of them and that was unthinkable a few weeks ago. It doesn’t remind me of last year. Seasons don’t always resemble each other.”
Paris Saint-German beat Toulouse 2-1 at the Parc des Princes with a crisp strike from centre-half Sylvain Armand and a deflected Mathieu Bodmer effort. Antoine Kombouaré’s side survived a scare when Franck Tabanou pulled one back in the second period after a breakdown in communication between Armand and goalkeeper Apoula Edel. Paulo Machado missed an early penalty for TFC. PSG are fourth, a point behind OM and two clear of fifth-placed Lyon.
Nice were the only club in the bottom eight to record a win. Les Aiglons were 2-0 victors at Saint-Etienne and sent on their way by an outrageous Maicon-esque strike from an impossible angle by right-back Kafoumba Coulibaly. The Ivorian had the grace to admit afterwards that it was an attempted cross.
Chu-Young Park netted a penalty and a fine second as Monaco roared into a 2-0 lead at home to Caen before being pegged back to 2-2. The principality club remain in the bottom three. Auxerre are fourth-bottom and still have not won since Week 13. Jean Fernandez’s side crashed 3-0 at Bordeaux.
Red for Ideye and Spahic
In mid-table Sochaux were held to a goalless draw at the Stade Auguste Bonal by Montpellier. Sochaux’s Brown Ideye and Montpellier’s Emir Spahic were both sent off. Valenciennes and Lorient played out a chance-laden encounter in northern France, although that too finished scoreless.
Bottom club Arles-Avignon collected their third draw in a row, taking a point off Brest, and that is the new boys’ longest unbeaten run of the season.