Week 5 review: Champions roar but Monaco maintain advantage
By S. Willis
Edinson Cavani bagged four as PSG hammered Caen 6-0 to go third, with leaders AS Monaco confirming their blistering start to the season with a 3-0 thumping of Rennes; Marseille and Lyon drew 0-0 in Sunday's Olympico.
Paris Saint-Germain may have been coming off a two-match winless run in the league, but their 1-1 Champions League draw with Arsenal on Tuesday showed a lot of promise - despite the scoreline - and on Friday Unai Emery's men followed through, with previously out-of-sorts striker Edinson Cavani bagging four first-half goals in what turned into a 6-0 demolition of SM Caen.
"We have confidence in Edinson Cavani. When he has five chances and scores one of them, as he did on Tuesday, I tell him to stay calm. For me it is very important that he creates chances for himself. On Tuesday it didn't go in for him, whereas on Friday it did," said Emery, for whom Lucas Moura and Jean-Kévin Augustin also found the net. "He actually played the same game. For the confidence of the team and the players it was important to win and to score goals."
It was an ominous display from the capital club - one of their best so far under Emery - but it wasn't enough to daunt high-flying AS Monaco, mid-week winners away to Tottenham, who went about their business the following day with an accomplished 3-0 dispatching of visiting Stade Rennais that featured a first goal for Radamel Falcao since his return from loan spells with Chelsea and Manchester United.
"We have more experience this season. The team is stronger than last season, but we're not perfect. Our opponents tried to attack, so that allowed us to counter," said Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, who despite sitting three points clear at the top of the table remains wary of the stiff competition in Ligue 1. "Paris are the favourites for the league title. We have made a good start to the season. Our team is more balanced now. We have more solutions…but Nice, Lyon and Marseille have also invested in their squads."
Between Monaco in first and Paris in third sit OGC Nice, who missed a chance to stay level with Monaco as they were forced to make do with a point away to Montpellier, who have now drawn three in a row. La Paillade old boy Younès Belhanda, making his first start for Les Aiglons, made sure Lucien Favre's side left the Stade de la Mosson with a share of the spoils (85') after Ryad Boudebouz had struck from the spot (67', pen.).
Nice were missing star signing Mario Balotelli, left out of the squad for fitness reasons following Thursday's 1-0 Europa League loss to Schalke, while France's other Europa League contenders, Saint-Etienne, rolled on from their Matchday 1 draw in Mainz with a late 1-0 win at home to SC Bastia, Romain Hamouma scoring from the spot for a dramatic finale (90'+3, pen.). Of Sainté's seven league goals this season, Hamouma's was the fifth scored after the 76th minute of matches.
Meanwhile Saint-Etienne's Week 8 derby rivals Olympique Lyonnais were looking to roll on from their impressive 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League in mid-week as they travelled to Marseille but, despite coach Bruno Genesio's sticking to his new-look 3-5-1-1 formation, they couldn't find a way past OM in a match where both sides' determination matches their lengthy injury lists.
FC Metz managed to stay among the top spots with a 0-0 draw away to Dijon FCO, who hover above the drop in 16th with just one win to their names, while Bordeaux's progress under new boss Jocelyn Gourvennec hit a snag as Les Girondins were undone 1-0 by a lone Karl Toko Ekambi strike (38'), the Cameroon hitman finishing neatly from close range after Cédric Carrasso had saved his initial effort.
Toulouse FC once again showed the incredible fighting spirit instilled in the side by coach Pascal Dupraz, who led them miraculously to top-flight survival last season, as they turned things around to hand EA Guingamp a first league defeat of the season 2-1 at The Stadium on Saturday night.
Although the visitors lost Karl-Johan Johnsson to a red in the first half, it was they who took the lead only for the TFC's talismanic captain Martin Braithwaite to hit back before Jimmy Durmaz completed the fight-back and clinched the win.
FC Lorient too showed plenty of spirit as they claimed their first points of the season 1-0 as Benjamin Moukandjo scored from the spot to send LOSC back to the north-east empty-handed; Les Merlus, who remain bottom, are joined in the drop zone by FC Nantes and AS Nancy-Lorraine, who played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade Marcel-Picot on Saturday night.