Week 30 review: Mbappé maintains Monaco momentum
By S. Willis
A double from red-hot striker Kylian Mbappé helped AS Monaco to stay three points clear at the top, but Leonardo Jardim's men can't shake second-placed Paris Saint-Germain, who passed a stiff test with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at home to Lyon.
Flying high after beating Manchester City to a place in the Champions League quarters in mid-week, AS Monaco were in fine form in domestic duties on Sunday afternoon and duly handed SM Caen a 3-0 defeat at the Stade Michel d'Ornano - thanks in large part to 12-goal man of the moment Kylian Mbappé.
Just days after receiving his first call-up to France's senior squad, for upcoming clashes with Luxemburg and Spain, Mbappé tore through the Caen defence almost at will. The 18-year-old scored twice to make it nine goals in his last seven Ligue 1 matches - as well as earning the penalty that spot-kick specialist Fabinho tucked away with ease.
"I think Monaco were stronger, and tried to win from the off, to press, and play a good first half. I think we deserved the win," said ASM coach Leonardo Jardim, whose side are now unbeaten in 17 matches in domestic competition, before hailing his young star. "Kylian is a lad who is making huge progress at the highest level, and he turned in an excellent performance today."
Pastore powers Paris
The decisive result in Normandy put even more pressure on second-placed Paris Saint-Germain, who had struggled to a 2-1 win in Lorient in Week 29 as they looked to recover from their Champions League humiliation in Barcelona, as Lyon came calling at the Parc des Princes on Sunday evening.
Despite conceding an early opener to OL's 23-goal top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, Unai Emery's men had a resurgent Javier Pastore to thank for setting up the goals that Adrien Rabiot and Julian Draxler bagged to claim victory and stay within three points of Monaco.
"Monaco are setting a very strong pace at the top of the standings, so it was important to win. We are still fighting in Ligue 1, the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France," said an Emery looking to emphasise the positives ahead of the Coupe de la Ligue final against the principality club in Lyon on April 1. "Since the winter break, we have won 16 of 19 matches, drawn two and lost one, against Barcelona. But we will talk about that match all season. We have shown that that was just an accident and that the team is playing well."
Bordeaux muscle in, Nice slip
The defeat could have been worse for fourth-placed Lyon, but their lead over fifth-placed Marseille remains at four points after Rudi Garcia's side could only take a point in a 0-0 draw on their visit to his former club LOSC. However, OL boss Bruno Genesio will remain wary, especially as Bordeaux continued their fine run of form - five wins and two draws in their last nine Ligue 1 outings - and drew level with Marseille on 46 points with a 5-1 demolition of south-western rivals Montpellier that puts them right in the mix for a European finish.
OGC Nice's hopes of figuring in the title race got slimmer as Les Aiglons slipped four points behind second-placed Paris Saint-Germain - and seven shy of leaders Monaco - with Jean Michaël Seri's thunderbolt clinching a 1-1 draw away to Nantes, who slip out of the top half of the table.
Sainté strike back as Angers make it five from six
Meanwhile Saint-Etienne kept their hopes of clinching a fifth-straight season of Europa League football alive with a 1-0 win in Dijon - their first victory since Week 25 and first on the road since Week 22 - thanks to a lone strike from Aston Villa loanee Jordan Veretout.
Rennes remain just inside the top half of the table following a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Toulouse - the sixth stalemate in their last eight matches - but have been caught on 39 points with Brittany rivals Angers SCO. Famara Diedhiou scored a stunning solo goal in the 3-0 hammering of fellow Bretons Guingamp, who were brought right back down to earth after their 5-0 demolition of Bastia in Week 29.
Lorient ignite relegation scrap
SC Bastia remain winless in 12 Ligue 1 matches - and four under new coach Rui Almeida - and in 19th place after a 1-0 loss away to promoted FC Metz and the Corsicans are now under pressure from bottom side Lorient, who stormed back from 2-0 down to clinch their relegation dogfight away to 18th-placed Nancy 3-2.