Week 26 review: PSG purge demons as Lyon skid continues
By S. Willis
PSG bounced back from defeat to Real Madrid with a 5-2 win over Strasbourg that consolidated their 12-point lead, while Lyon slipped further adrift of chasers Monaco and OM, a 2-2 draw away to LOSC opening a six-point deficit.
Paris Saint-Germain suffered a significant setback on Wednesday night as they left Madrid 3-1 losers, but the capital club were back in form to confirm their domination of domestic matters with a 5-2 thumping of RC Strasbourg Alsace, who famously handed them a first league defat of the season 2-1 in the reverse fixture in December.
Back in business
Coach Unai Emery rang the changes, with Angel Di Maria and Thiago Silva among others returning to the starting line-up, and although Strasbourg took a shock early lead, the title favourites asserted their credentials, with Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Edinson Cavani notching a brace while Neymar Jr provided a goal and an assist in a clinical win.
"We really want to look forward, to show that we always want to win, especially in the league which is another big objective for the club. We played well tonight," said Cavani, whose second strike was a club-record 86th goal at the Parc des Princes. "We still have 90 important minutes against Real Madrid, and we have to concentrate on our other matches before then. The most important thing for a team is to work hard as a team and stay united, that is what makes a great football side."
Lyon letting it slip
Olympique Lyonnais have fallen off the pace in the race for second in recent weeks, and although Bruno Genesio's men managed to halt a three-match losing streak in the league, they did fall six points shy of third-placed Marseille as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 away to LOSC on Sunday afternoon.
"We weren't humble enough for top-level sport," said OL boss Genesio, who has faulted his uber-talented squad for hubris over the course of their winless run since beating PSG 2-1 in Week 22. "I told my players what I think and it will stay between us. As for the podium, well you never know what will happen in sport. It's not because we played a bit deeper in the second half that we conceded twice. The lack of humility was down to our leading 2-0 at the break."
Monaco, Marseille power on
Although Genesio is evidently still hopeful of a top-three finish, it will be tough for Lyon to bridge the gap given the form currently being shown by both Monaco and Marseille. Leonardo Jardim's champions may have struggled somewhat early in 2018 but they have hit their straps in February, with Friday night's 4-0 hammering of Dijon the perfect example.
Despite the continued injury absence of top scorer Radamel Falcao, goals were not a problem for the principality side, with Keita Baldé striking early (13') before a trio of second-half strikes was capped by stopper Kamil Glik's pin-point shot on the turn (90'+2).
Just a point behind them sit Marseille, who had in-form forward Florian Thauvin to thank for a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Bordeaux. Gustavo Poyet's in-form side defended staunchly but the France man's 15th of the season - his fifth in three matches - put an end to the Girondins' four-match winning run and left them in eighth.
Claudio Ranieri's FC Nantes have been turning in entertaining performances week after week but Les Canaris seem unable to break free in the race for fifth place. This time it was OGC Nice who foiled Nantes plans, with Brazil stopper Dante bagging his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal (67 appearances) before Emiliano Sala clinched the draw with a penalty - his 11th goal of the season.
Meanwhile Montpellier remain just a point shy of the Canaris after a 1-1 draw with EA Guingamp in the south-west, Yeni Ngbakoto (30, pen.) and Giovanni Sio (73') trading goals in a tight match.
Sakho strikes not enough for Rennes
Seventh-placed Stade Rennais FC played were out to build on their 2-0 win in Lyon as they travelled to Normandy, and Sabri Lamouchi's men were poised for a 2-1 win thanks to new signing Diafra Sakho's first two Ligue 1 Conforama goals - but stalwart Caen defender Damien Da Silva popped up late with his third in three matches to clinch a sensational draw 2-2.
Amiens SC slipped into the drop zone (18th) following a 0-0 draw at home to Toulouse, but Christophe Pélissier's men are a point better off than Angers SCO, whose 1-0 defeat at home to Saint-Etienne, courtesy of a howler from 'keeper Ludovic Butelle, left them in 19th. FC Metz continue to prop up the table after a 1-0 loss in Troyes that sent the home side to 15th.