Week 8 Review: Monaco seven-up but Nice on top
By A. Scott
Mario Balotelli's brilliant winner ensured OGC Nice top the table going into the international break, but AS Monaco are right behind them after recording their record away win. Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais claimed the derby honours.
Balotelli bent in a superb strike four minutes from time to give Nice a 2-1 win over FC Lorient at the Allianz Riviera after Ricardo Pereira's first-half opener had been cancelled out by Benjamin Moukandjo. It was Balotelli's fifth goal in just three Ligue 1 appearances, although his afternoon's work was slightly undone by a red card in stoppage time that will rule him out of Nice's next game at home to Lyon.
"Everyone knows how good he is in front of goal, and we are taking advantage of his finishing qualities," said Nice coach Luicen Favre, whose side are still unbeaten after eight matches. "Twenty points from eight games is magnificent. But our philosophy doesn't change, we go match by match."
Les Aiglons are a point clear of Monaco, who recorded their biggest ever away victory in Ligue 1 as they hammered FC Metz 7-0 at the Stade Saint-Symphorien. Thomas Lemar, Valère Germain and Bernardo Silva all netted in the first half for the principality side before Metz had Cheick Doukouré sent off on the hour mark. Fabinho made it four from the penalty spot and Guido Carrillo added a brace, with substitute Gabriel Boschilia wrapping up Monaco's ninth win in their last 11 matches.
"Once it went 3-0 the match was over. We're happy because it's never easy after a midweek Champions League fixture," said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, whose side ground out a 1-1 draw with Bayer 04 Leverkusen of Germany in Europe. "We had a very good September, but the season is long."
The Côte d'Azur duo may be setting the pace, but the defending champions Paris Saint-Germain are lurking in third, four points behind the leaders, after a comfortable 2-0 win over Girondins de Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes. Edinson Cavani kept up his prolific form with a first-half brace, the second from a brilliant back-heel, to take him to eight league goals for the campaign and 11 in all competitions.
That result took PSG back up above Toulouse FC, as Pascal Dupraz's men, having beaten the champions in their previous outing, went down 1-0 away at SM Caen. Ivan Santini scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot, the Croatian netting for the first time since the opening weekend.
Record crowd for OL
Lyon are into the top five after winning the 113th derby against Saint-Etienne, and the very first at the Parc OL. In front of a record crowd at their new home of 57,050, Nabil Fekir set up Sergi Darder for the first-half opener and Rachid Ghezzal came off the bench to drill in the second goal in a 2-0 win. For Saint-Etienne, who saw Kévin Monnet-Paquet hit the post early in the second period, it was a first defeat since the opening weekend of the campaign.
"For the first derby at the Parc OL, we had to win for the supporters and for our club, although it was very difficult against a very good team," said Lyon coach Bruno Genesio.
There was also derby glory for Stade Rennais FC, who sunk EA Guingamp 1-0 in the Celtico thanks to Adama Diakhaby's stoppage-time winner after the visitors had Moustapha Diallo sent off at Roazhon Park.
Elsewhere, Chad striker Casimir Ninga scored a hat-trick, his first goals of the season, for Montpellier Hérault SC but they threw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 away to Dijon FCO. The hosts' goals at the Stade Gaston-Gérard came from Loïs Diony, an Anthony Vanden Borre own goal and Yohann Rivière, who struck a last-minute equaliser.
Olympique de Marseille were again left frustrated by the concession of a late goal as Pierrick Capelle's injury-time equaliser secured Angers SCO a 1-1 draw at the Stade Jean-Bouin after Florian Thauvin's deflected effort had given OM the lead.
LOSC climbed off the bottom at the expense of AS Nancy Lorraine as an Eder penalty - his first goal of the campaign - secured Lille a 1-0 win in the meeting of the clubs at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. FC Nantes won for the first time since the opening weekend as Mariusz Stepinski's goal clinched a 1-0 win at home to SC Bastia.