Week 4 review: Paris, Monaco maintain perfect starts
By S. Willis
Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco both made easy work of high-flying opponents to break free atop the table with only goal difference to separate them. Meanwhile Amiens won their first-ever match in France's top flight.
At least one perfect start to the season was on the line when Saint-Etienne travelled to the Parc des Princes to kick off Ligue 1 Conforama's Week 4 in a top-of-the-table clash on Friday night, and the capital club quickly made sure it wasn't theirs. Edinson Cavani scored in his fourth match in a row, from the spot (20') and with a superb back-heeled finish (89') on either side of a rare Thiago Motta strike - just his eighth in 151 Ligue 1 Conforama appearances - to end Sainté's strong start to the campaign under new boss Oscar Garcia.
"We have achieved our objective of being top of the table after this match after facing a well organised Saint-Etienne team," said PSG boss Unai Emery, who saw star arrival Neymar fail to score for the first time in his French career - although he was at the origin of the moves that led to the second and third goals. "This match gives us a lot of information to help us improve and help Neymar adapt to the league, but also to our opponents. He felt very good in his first two matches. This was another process which will help him learn."
The strong showing left champions Monaco needing to come up with a response, and that's exactly what Leonardo Jardim's charges did at home to Olympique de Marseille on Sunday evening, mauling their visitors 6-1. And not only was the result their biggest-ever win in this derby fixture, but also a record 16th-straight Ligue 1 Conforama win and their 36th consecutive top-flight match with at least one goal.
"The first half completely determined the outcome of the match. We put the pressure on our opponent right from the start. We didn't let Marseille play. We never thought we would beat Marseille - who are stronger than they were last season - 6-1," said Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, for whom captain Radamel Falcao bagged a brace to remain atop the Ligue 1 Conforama scorers chart, now with seven. "He's a great striker. He will score a lot this season, but the most important thing is his attitude: he presses and he tackles. He's a real team player. This is the real Falcao, whom I knew at Porto."
Growing speculation that Monaco stars Kylian Mbappé - 'rested' once more - and Fabinho could be on their way to join Paris Saint-Germain in big-money moves before the transfer window closes on Thursday night had little apparent effect on Jardim's cool, calm and collected side. But the same could not be said for Olympique Lyonnais as they were held to a second draw in as many weeks as they travelled to Nantes.
Bruno Genesio's men were looking to get back to winning ways after a spectacular 3-3 draw with Bordeaux in Week 3, but Claudio Ranieri's Nantes were looking to build on their opening win of the campaign away to Troyes in Week 3 and held their visitors to the 2017-18 season's first 0-0 outcome.
"We're disappointed because we deserved better than that as we dominated the entire game. I think we did everything we could have done but we didn't take our chances and didn't have that bit of luck you need," said OL boss Bruno Genesio, while opposite number Claudio Ranieri, whose side lost the two opening matches of the campaign, was on much better terms with the result. "After the win at Troyes, we have taken a point without conceding and that makes me a satisfied man. Not happy, but satisfied. We are getting better and better and becoming more confident."
Malcom on top
Meanwhile Malcom, the Brazilian who bagged a spectacular brace in Week 3's 3-3 draw with Lyon, was at it again as Bordeaux beat promoted Troyes 2-1 to go fifth, while SM Caen had the silky talents of Ronny Rodelin to thank for their 1-0 win over Metz and the climb up to eight place.
Marcelo Bielsa's LOSC stopped the rot of three consecutive defeats as stalwart striker Nicolas De Préville underlined his importance to the club with a superb curling strike from outside the area to claim a 1-1 draw after Lassana Coulibaly had opened the scoring. Les Dogues climb to 13th with the win, leap-frogging hapless Nice, whose beleaguered start to the season continued as they travelled to promoted Amiens.
Kakuta on target, Toulouse take thriller
Although star recruit Wesley Sneijder played all 90 minutes, Les Aiglons couldn't get a foothold in the match after former Chelsea youngster Gaël Kakuta curled in a superb free-kick early on. It was Amiens' first-ever top-flight goal and it led to their first-ever Ligue 1 Conforama win, 3-0, but Christophe Pélissier's men remain in the drop zone (18th), with only goal difference separating them from Nice in 17th.
Dijon pulled clear of the danger zone with a 2-1 win at home to mid-table Montpellier, striker Benjamin Jeannot scoring his first two goals for his new club, while EA Guingamp pulled into the top half of the table with a 2-0 defeat of promoted Strasbourg. Tenth-placed Toulouse confirmed their goal-scoring potential in the 3-2 win over ten-man - and still-winless - Stade Rennais, but there were some nervy moments before Jimmy Durmaz settled the see-sawing match with his third of the season - a 71st-minute spot-kick.