Edinson Cavani and the PSG fans who adore him
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Round 24 review: Cavani sees off OL as Rennes falter again

Publish on 10/02/2020 at 11h30 - S. WILLIS

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Edinson Cavani was back among the goals as PSG maintained their 12-point lead atop the standings with a 4-2 win over Lyon. All top eight sides tasted victory in Round 24 - except for Rennes, whose grip on third weakened with a 0-0 draw at home to Brittany rivals Brest.

Although Paris Saint-Germain were up 3-0 just after the break as Olympique Lyonnais came calling at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night, there were some nervy moments in the second half as Martin Terrier and ex-PSG youth academy striker Moussa Dembélé got the visitors back to within a goal.

Cavani: 'A special evening'

Cue El Matador from the bench, subbed on for his replacement Mauro Icardi, and cue heroics as the Uruguayan lashed home a neat lay-off from the once-again excellent Angel Di Maria. The strike saw Cavani join Kylian Mbappé and the Argentine playmaker on the scoresheet and kill the match off at just the right time.

"It was a special evening. I felt the warmth from my teammates and the fans when I scored. It's nice to finish the game like that after Lyon had come back into it. I really enjoyed that," said the 32-year-old, who reportedly came extremely close to a winter move to Atlético Madrid after being frozen out of the first team by Icardi, but who could now hope for a start in Wednesday's Coupe de France quarter-final in Dijon.

"It's magnificent. The relationship with the fans is something that goes beyond football. They also allow you to feel your importance in the club. I'm always going to give my all for this club, my teammates and the fans. They give me a lot of strength and courage. It's the best way to thank them."

The fans were certainly grateful that their all-time top scorer - Cavani is now on 199 goals for the club in all competitions - made sure that the capital club stretched its unbeaten run to 21 matches in all competitions.

Garcia: 'A lack of experience'

Meanwhile, for Lyon, a third match in a row without victory - after a perfect month of January - saw them dip to ninth place 

"I think we showed a lack of experience and a too great a desire to go to battle," said coach Rudi Garcia, who has a Coupe de France quarter-final at home to former club Marseille looming on Wednesday. "When you're up against forward of the class of those at PSG, you can't give them that much space. We corrected things in the second half and it was much better. I hope we at least learned from this game."

Payet magic

While PSG had Di Maria pulling the strings for victory, so too did Olympique de Marseille, who kept pace with the capital club thanks to a stunning goal from Dimitri Payet, who took charge of a deceptively tough encounter with bottom club Toulouse and fashioned a 1-0 win with a stunning shot from the edge of the area.

"Today we needed a moment of genius, and that's what happened with Payet," said OM boss André Villas-Boas, whose side are now unbeaten in 16 matches in all competitions. "The game changed completely after that. Taking 7 points in a week [out of a possible nine] is a sign of a very solid team."

Galtier keeping a lid on LOSC

Rennes managed to remain in third - but only just - despite a 0-0 at home to Brest. Unlike in their clash with Nantes last weekend, where they scored twice in injury time to win 3-2, there was no derby luck this time around and Julien Stéphan's side now just one point clear of LOSC, who made it three wins in a row as Victor Osimhen (with his 12th of the season) and Man of the match Renato Sanches clinched victory 2-0 in Angers.

"I don't want to talk about the podium, because there are a lot of matches left. It's still too soon," said LOSC coach Christophe Galtier, whose side have now on their last three league games having lost the previous three. "It's a very tight league and we have an inconsistent team. Of course it's great to have this kind of a week, but it's still too early in the season to say we're going to fight for third place."

Coupe balm for Sainté?

Three points behind Les Dogues, ten-man Montpellier pushed their case for European qualification with an Andy Delort-powered 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne that leaves Les Verts on a run of three defeats and just four points clear of the bottom three. But there could be a silver lining for Claude Puel and his men - a place in the Coupe de France semi-finals - should they manage to get past CFA (D4) side Epinal on Thursday night.

"Have we given up hope? I hope not," said the famously competitive Puel. "You can't bounce back by feeling miserable."

Monaco's dynamic duo return

But so too Montpellier will be looking over their shoulders after Strasbourg climbed to sixth with a 3-0 hiding of Reims - Majeed Waris notably getting his second in as many matches since signing on loan from Porto in January - but there can be no discounting Monaco, who had Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder and his favourite accomplice Islam Slimani to thank for their late win in Amiens.

Unlikely as it has seemed at points during the season, Nîmes Olympique - who lost so many of the players who starred in their promotion campaign last season - confirmed that they are on a tear with a 3-1 beating of ten-man OGC Nice at the Allianz Riviera.

Mavididi shakes the net

Three wins in a row now have Le Crocos just a point shy of 17th-placed Dijon, for whom English striker Stephy Mavididi hit a double that almost clinched victory over Nantes. However, a late looping header from Canaris defender Andrei Girotto saw the points shared 3-3 in Burgundy.

Rémi Oudin's first goal since leaving Reims for Bordeaux in the winter transfer window helped Les Girondins to a 2-1 win away to ten-man Metz despite an opening screamer from Ibrahima Niane.