Week 28 Review: PSG benefit from Olympico draw
By A. Scott
The biggest winners from the Olympico stalemate between Lyon and Marseille were Paris Saint-Germain, who end Week 28 four points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table.
Meetings between OL and OM in recent years have usually been high-scoring affairs, including the famous 5-5 draw in 2009 and Lyon's 4-1 victory at the Stade Vélodrome in November. This time, however, there were no goals and few clear-cut chances in a hard-fought encounter at the Stade de Gerland.
The result keeps Lyon in second place and Marseille third, but the two clubs are now respectively four and seven points behind leaders PSG, making it a good weekend for the capital club, who came from behind to beat Nancy 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
"It would have been better had we taken the three points," said Lyon coach Rémi Garde, who nevertheless saw the positives from the draw. "It was a game against a direct rival and it was also important not to lose. We couldn't break down a well-organised defence, but OM didn't pose us many problems. I have no regrets."
PSG still have to go to Lyon, and must also visit Saint-Etienne next weekend, so it would be foolish to suggest that they are now going to run away with the title. Indeed, while they managed to beat Nancy, it was not a convincing performance from Carlo Ancelotti's men, who seemed tired following their midweek Champions League exploits. They fell behind to a first-half Benjamin Moukandjo goal before being rescued by a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace in the second half. The Swede now has 24 goals in 25 Ligue 1 appearances.
"The first half was like our performances at Sochaux and Reims," said Ancelotti, in reference to the two recent defeats his side have suffered against clubs fighting relegation. "There was no movement, no intensity to our passing. But that's normal. Two and a half days after a Champions League match you can't have the same intensity."
Lucky 13 for Saint-Etienne
Saint-Etienne are sure to provide a stern test to PSG, having already beaten them twice this season, once in Ligue 1 and once in the Coupe de la Ligue. Les Verts are still unbeaten after 13 matches in 2013 following their 2-2 draw at Rennes on Friday. In a dress rehearsal for April's Coupe de la Ligue final, Rennes led twice, with Romain Danzé and Julien Féret scoring their goals. But Yohan Mollo and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted for Christophe Galtier's side, with the Gabon striker taking his tally for the season to 16 goals. He has scored nine in his last eight games in all competitions.
Saint-Etienne are still just two points behind Marseille in third - that all-important Champions League qualifying berth - but there are several other clubs also giving chase in the battle for European places. Nice beat Montpellier 2-0 at the Stade du Ray, with 20-year-old striker Stéphane Bahoken marking his first Ligue 1 start with his first two goals at the highest level.
Garcia: 'Quite a performance'
Lille are also right in the running now after coming from behind to win 3-1 at Valenciennes in the northern derby. Maor Melikson gave the home side the lead, but second-half counters from Ronny Rodelin, Tulio De Melo and Benoît Pedretti helped Rudi Garcia's team claim another impressive victory.
"Five wins in a row is quite a performance. And this was a derby, in Valenciennes where we hadn't won in a long time, and we were behind," he said, with the 2011 champions closing the gap on the top three still further. "We are nibbling away little by little."
Elsewhere, Troyes beat regional rivals Reims 4-2 in a key game at the foot of the table. On a weekend of notable performances from young players, 17-year-old Corentin Jean scored his first two goals at senior level for Troyes, who move off the bottom and above Nancy. They are now just four points from safety.
In another six-pointer, Evian-Thonon-Gaillard beat Sochaux 5-1 in Annecy with Cédric Barbosa and Saber Khlifa both scoring twice. Evian climb out of the relegation zone, with Sochaux replacing them in the bottom three.
Bordeaux ended a miserable run as Cheick Diabaté scored in a 1-0 home win against Bastia, while Ronald Zubar's deflected effort helped Ajaccio beat Lorient by the same score. And 17-year-old Adrien Rabiot, on loan from PSG, netted a brilliant goal - his first in Ligue 1 - as Toulouse beat Brest 1-0 in Brittany.