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Week 22 review: PSG thump Rennes; tough return for Jardim

Publish on 28/01/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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PSG maintained their lead with an Edinson Cavani-powered 4-1 win over Rennes while Leonardo Jardim tasted defeat in his first match back after replacing his replacement Thierry Henry as coach of Monaco.

No Neymar? No problem for PSG as they saw off a spirited challenge from an exciting Rennes side at the Parc des Princes, second-half goals from Angel Di Maria, Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Kylian Mbappé (his 18th of the season) - and Edinson Cavani (his second of the match) clinching a 4-1 win that leaves the capital club 13 points clear atop the standings with two matches in hand.

Tuchel: 'Deserved the win'

"Rennes are a quality opponent, still in the running in the Europa League. They played with a lot of desire - something we were lacking a little bit in the first half. We needed to fight back and that’s exactly what the team did," said Paris boss Thomas Tuchel, who refused to be drawn on questions concerning the foot injury of Brazilian superstar Neymar. "In the second half we played with a lot more quality; we were more aggressive, and we played with the right mentality. We deserved the win and we are very happy."

Rennes coach Julien Stéphan, who has turned the Brittany side around since taking the reins in December, felt that the scoreline didn't reflect the quality his side had shown, especially in the first hour: "We more than held our own, especially in the first half. We knew that, in order to get a result here, we would have to play a perfect match - and a perfect match lasts 90 minutes."

Welcome back, Leo

Reinstated Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim - who on Friday replaced his replacement Thierry Henry after four months in the principality hotseat - watched on from the stands as assistant coach Franck Passi took charge of the team for the trip to Dijon, and couldn't have been to excited by what he saw as Naldo earned a second red card in there matches and the side lost 2-0.

"We let our opponent pass us by, and then we are left chasing the game and it is obviously going to be more difficult," said Passi, who handed the reins to Jardim after the match. "The mental problem comes when we look at the league table. These players have quality. They are equipped to be able to stay up, but it just needs a little trigger that has to come quickly. There are still games left."

The result leaves Monaco in 19th, three points shy of safety and five behind Dijon, who climbed to 16th with the rousing win.

Balotelli fires but Pépé sinks OM

Meanwhile, back in the upper reaches of the table, LOSC made sure not to let PSG get any further ahead as they took a full three points from their trip to the Orange Vélodrome  to face Marseille on Friday night. Although Mario Balotelli was in the team and on the scoresheet just days after signing for OM from Nice, the Italy superstar was outshone by Ivorian counterpart Nicolas Pépé, who struck twice to clinch a 2-1 win for Les Dogues.

"This is a cruel defeat and we weren't spared anything.There were plenty of signs of hope in the attitude of the players when down to ten men and Mario's goal," said OM boss Rudi Garcia, who had Florian Thauvin sent off for a dangerous tackle just after the hour-mark. "Mario couldn't play for more than 15-20 minutes. It was a risk we took because we needed him."

Denayer powers OL roll

Marseille, now with just one win in their last 11 in a all competitions, slip to eighth place, nine points shy of the Champions League places, where Olympique Lyonnais made sure to keep pace with second-placed LOSC by beating Amiens 1-0 - their second win in Amiens in four days after knocking them out of the Coupe de France last 32 2-0 on Thursday.

Dress rehearsal

In another instance of league-cup coincidence, Strasbourg firmed in fifth with a dramatic late 1-0 beating of Bordeaux just days out from Wednesday's identical fixture in the Coupe de France semi-finals. Highly rated defender Kenny Lala sealed the win with the last kick of the game - a superb low strike from distance.

Mario who? Saint-Maximin filling Balotelli's boots

Montpellier ended a six-match winless run in all competitions by dispatching SM Caen 2-0, while Nice had the excellent Allan Saint-Maximin to thank for a 2-0 win at home to Nîmes that took them seventh, just a point behind Montpellier and the European places.

Guingamp have been blowing hot and cold of late, beating PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue, Nancy in the Coupe de France and derby rivals Rennes in the league (Week 18) - while also copping a 9-0 hiding at the Parc des Princes (Week 21) - and on Saturday their performance was of the cold variety as they went down 1-0 Reims, who climb back into the top half of the table on the back of their first league win since mid-December.

Toulouse and Angers played out an entertaining 0-0 draw that featured a superb penalty save at each end, while FC Nantes' clash at home to AS Saint-Etienne will be played on Wednesday, 30 January at 21:00 CET.