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Week 19 review: PSG, OM cap 2019 in style

Publish on 28/12/2019 at 18:11

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France's top two sides ended the year with impressive wins, PSG 4-1 over Amiens and OM 3-1 at home to local rivals Nîmes. Monaco and Montpellier also won big, while OL slipped to 12th with a 1-1 draw in Reims.

Saturday night saw all ten Ligue 1 Conforama Week 19 fixtures played simultaneously around France, with PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé hogging the limelight with a brace in the 4-1 win over Amiens SC at the Parc des Princes that saw the capital club maintain their seven-point lead (with a game in hand) into the winter break.

Mbappé's birthday bonus

Two days after his 21st birthday, the France prodigy his hit tenth (10') and 11th (65') goals of the campaign - on either side of Neymar's tap-in (46') - before Mauro Icardi got his inevitable goal with six minutes to go (84'). The scoreline would have been much wider had it not been for the heroics of Amiens 'keeper Régis Gurtner, and while Colombian Steven Mendoza pulled one back for the visitors with a sweet volley from the edge of the area, it was a mere consolation for the struggling side from Picardy, who slip to 18th on the back of a winless run of six (five defeats).

"We've finished the year with a great win, a great team performance. We attacked and defended together. It was a focused display, and a deserved win," said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, despite losing two central defenders to injury in the course of the match. "Unfortunately we lost Thiago Silva and Abdou Diallo to injury, but the rest was perfect. The challenge for us now is to enjoy our holidays and come back on 2 January with the same team spirit and intensity in our play."

Payet on fire

Meanwhile PSG's arch-rivals OM made sure they kept pace with the leaders by bagging a seventh win in eight outings, 3-1 over struggling south-coast rivals Nîmes Olympique at the Orange Vélodrome. Main man Dimitri Payet was in fine form, forcing an own-goal from Sofiane Alakouch (46') before setting up Dario Benedetto (65') and then scoring his own (81') to kill off the match before Nîmes captain Anthony Briançon got a late consolation (90'+2) for the visitors, who nonetheless remain 19th.

"It was very important to win. Everyone was nervous, me too, and we had to contain our impatience," said OM boss André Villas-Boas, whose side had been equalled by a valiant Nîmes side in the first half. "My mid-season assessment? I think the change has been individual, because the quality is there. Everyone has changed their mentality, and that's what allows us to be second, because the team is almost the same as the one that played in the 2018 Europa League final, and finished fifth last year."

Montpellier, Monaco win big

Montpellier ended the year on a high with a 4-0 walloping of Stade Brestois 29, striker Gaëtan Laborde confirming that he is back in form with a double after a slow start to the season. Michel Der Zakarian's men had lost two of a winless run three leading up to the match and climb to ninth, while Brest dip to 15th.

Although the pressure has been mounting on Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, there was little evidence as his side mowed LOSC down 5-1 at the Stade Louis II. Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder would have been caught by Mbappé on the scoring chart had he not produced a brace of his own as the principality ran riot to climb to seventh while knocking LOSC off the podium.

Jardim: 'Not going to stress'

"The team didn't listen to the rumblings and they didn't give up on their coach. We played a very good match, an intense match," said embattled Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, reinstated at the beginning of the season after a six-month hiatus. "Will I be Monaco coach in 2020? I don't know. I haven't talked to anyone. Some of the fans are not happy, since my return. That's never changed. I'm not going to stress about my future. We just won 5-1."

The only real good news for LOSC boss Christophe Galtier was that Nigerian goal machine Victor Osimhen scored his tenth of the season - his first away from the Stade Pierre Mauroy - and that his side have a two point lead over fifth-placed Nantes, who fell 2-1 at home to Angers, who broke a four-match (three defeats) winless run thanks to Farid El Melali's late winner (87') at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

Garcia welcomes winter break

After losing key men Memphis Depay and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde to cruciate knee ligament injuries in Week 18, Rudi Garcia's Lyon side could only draw 1-1 in Reims, Moussa Dembélé spurning the chance to clinch a precious win as he missed from the penalty spot.

"It's fortunate that the year 2019 is coming to an end. Lately, we've been having a tough time getting results," lamented Garcia after the match against the sixth-placed side from the Champagne region. "We did almost everything we needed to win the game. But we didn't put our penalty away. It would have been good for our place in the rankings, but instead we've dipped to 12th."

Niang sinks Bordeaux

Meanwhile Stade Rennais FC, who beat OL 1-0 in Lyon last weekend, moved into the top three with a beating of Bordeaux by the same scoreline, in-form Senegal striker Mbaye Niang once again getting the winner to make it five wins from five in a hugely successful month of December for Julien Stéphan's side.

Things were certainly different for Bordeaux in the final month of the year, Paulo Sousa's side dropping three on the trot and dipping from seventh to 13th - as well as crashing out of the Coupe de la Ligue BKT at the hands of Brest - after mauling Nîmes 6-0 in Week 16.    

Sainté sink as the Aiglons soar

Nonetheless, Les Girondins remain a point clear of Saint-Etienne, for whom a 2-1 defeat in Strasbourg marked a definitive end to the Puel, which had buoyed their fortunes after coach Claude took over in early October. Les Verts won just once and lost four times in December and now sit in 14th, once again below arch-rivals Lyon.

Strugglers Dijon and Metz drew 2-2 in Burgundy, Habib Maiga bagging a last-minute leveller for the ten-man side from the north-east and, last but not least, Patrick Vieira's OGC Nice end the year in the top half of the table (tenth) after their 3-0 win over bottom club Toulouse. Malang Sarr, Hicham Boudaoui and Pierre Lees-Melou did the damage.