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Week 5 review: Neymar back in the good books?

Publish on 16/09/2019 at 14:30

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Neymar took steps to mend relations with PSG fans by hitting a spectacular late volley to beat Strasbourg 1-0 and keep the capital club atop the standings; OM prevailed in a seven-goal thriller in Monaco; and Nantes edged into the top three with a 1-

PSG fans were not impressed by Neymar's summer-long campaign for a move back to former club Barcelona, and they were determined to let him know as they booed and whistled at him throughout PSG's gruelling clash with Strasbourg on Saturday evening.

Redemption?

Was there a way back for the want-away Brazil superstar? Was there any way of appeasing the irate supporters from the French capital? Evidently, there was, and it came in the form of a spectacular acrobatic volley that clinched all three points just seconds from the final whistle.

Still, capital club boss Thomas Tuchel expects more from his star attacker, especially in the continued injury absence of Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani, as clashes against Real Madrid and Lyon loom.

"Neymar was good but he can play better, dribbling and accelerating more. But he needs a few matches to find his pace, his physical ability and to speed up our game. I'm happy with what he did in the last minute," said the German coach. "It helps a lot."

There were other positives for Tuchel: newly signed 'keeper Keylor Navas conjured some smart saves on debut and there were creditable league debuts off the bench for new recruits Ander Herrera and Mauro Icardi as Strasbourg took the game to the Parisians.

"Strasbourg are a physical team and it's always difficult to find space against them. We didn't play our best game but we gave everything. It's never easy to play after the international break and before the Champions League," continued a cool, calm and collected Tuchel. "I'm not worried at all. We turned up and we won. That may be even better than winning easily."

Goal-fest on the south coast

Meanwhile PSG's arch-rivals OM found themselves in a real tussle with Monaco but prevailed thanks in no small part to the sharp finishing of two-goal hero Dario Benedetto who, with four league goals from as many starts, is shaping up as the consistent goal scorer that OM have been looking for over the past few seasons.

"Conceding three goals is not always good for a coach because you like to be well organised and have a good defensive base," said OM boss André Villas-Boas, whose side climb to fourth. "But it must have been fun for the spectators and I'm very happy for my players. We played with courage. We found the spaces well. We played good football. It makes the victory even more beautiful. We're climbing the rankings, it's good for the confidence."

Les Canaris on song

Although Rennes managed to stay in second, two points shy of PSG after drawing 0-0 in their Brittany derby in Brest, Week 5 saw the top three field a new arrival: FC Nantes, who made it three wins in a row as Kalifa Coulibaly's lone strike secured all three points at home to Reims.

"It's much nicer to be near the top of the table, because it has a good impact on team spirit," declared Les Canaris boss Christian Gourcuff, who has had a great effect on his squad since stepping after Vahid Halilhodzic's abrupt early-season resignation. "I don't want to forecast what we can achieve this season, but we have to stay clear in our thoughts and I think we can still improve. We knew it would be a tough match against a difficult opponent."

LOSC, Montpellier edge contests

Meanwhile LOSC continued their up-and-down ways with a third home win of the season, 2-1 against Angers, climbing to fifth as goals from Ligue 1 Conforama co-top scorer Victor Osimhen (five goals) and Luis Araujo made Stéphane Bahoken's late strike a mere consolation for Les Scoïstes, who slip from third to seventh.

Adrien Tameze and Andy Delort exchanged goals just after the half-hour mark as OGC Nice did battle in Montpellier, but it was the home side who prevailed 2-1 when Florent Mollet struck late in the piece, making it the first time his side have scored more than once in a match this season.

Lyon held, Bordeaux break Metz

Despite France U21 striker Moussa Dembélé's bagging a brace to keep pace with Osimhen atop the scorers chart, Olympique Lyonnais - who slip to eighth - could only manage a 2-2 draw away to Amiens as Christophe Jallet and Mathieu Bodmer came back to haunt their old club.  

Bordeaux had early strikes from Jimmy Briand and Nicolas De Préville - the latter set up by South Korean superstar Ui-Jo Hwang - to thank for their 2-0 win over promoted FC Metz. Undefeated since the opening day of the season, Bordeaux climb to while Les Grenats slip to the brink of the drop zone in 17th.

The Hamouma show

Toulouse streaked to a 2-0 lead in their trip to Saint-Etienne, but a superbly taken second-half double from Romain Hamouma saw the match end 2-2 that leaves the Téfécé in tenth and Les Verts - winless since the opening day of the season - in 15th.

Bottom club Dijon - already looking set to relive last season's harrowing dance with relegation - couldn't beat visiting Nîmes but defended well enough to take the bite out of Les Crocos' attack and clinch a 0-0 draw.