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Round 28 review: OM concern as Rennes, LOSC bring the heat

Publish on 09/03/2020 at 10:00 - S. WILLIS

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OM's grip on second came into question as AVB's side were caught in a 2-2 draw with Amiens and Rennes walloped Montpellier 5-0 to climb to within six points of OM - with OL killers LOSC just a point behind. PSG's trip to Strasbourg was postponed.

Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 prompted local authorities in Strasbourg to postpone the capital club's clash with Le Racing at the Stade de la Meinau on Saturday afternoon - with a new time and date yet to be determined - and while the cat was away, the mice got up to all sorts of things…

AVB's mea culpa

First of all, Marseille called their security in second place into question as they dropped two points at home to struggling Amiens. Morgan Sanson and Dimitri Payet had the hosts cruising at 2-0 up at the hour-mark, but their focus slipped and late goals from Serhou Guirassy and the fit-again, no-longer-suspended Samman Ghoddos saw the 19th-placed side claim a precious point.

"It is my fault," said OM boss André Villas-Boas, for whom there was the consolation of seeing French World Cup winner Florian Thauvin back in action after a long injury lay-off. "We were in control of the match at 2-0, so it is my responsibility. I am the leader of this team, so it is up to me give them tranquility. But we have dropped two more points at home. It is difficult and hard to take, but we still have a gap down to the teams below us and Sunday’s matches to watch."

Elsner: 'Proud of my team'

Meanwhile Amiens boss Luka Elsner was impressed with his side's fighting spirit, which will doubtless hold them in good stead as they look to battle their way out of the bottom three. Les Licornes have a ten-point lead over bottom club Toulouse but trail 18th-placed Nîmes, who are in line for a place in the play-offs by four.

"To be 2-0 down with 20 minutes left and not throw in the towel is very important I think. I was very proud of my team and I saw in their eyes that they would fight until the end, until the last drop of sweat, regardless of the result," Elsner said. "While there is a lot of pride, we have already experienced this scenario. We have already managed to cause problems to the biggest teams in the league. The challenge for us is knowing what to do, and how to do it, when Angers come to our place [in Round 29]."

Rennes run riot

OM's slip-up on Friday night presented Rennes with a golden opportunity to make up ground and Julien Stéphan's men didn't disappoint, conjuring a five-star performance full of stunning strikes to down rivals Montpellier 5-0 at Roazhon Park on Sunday.

"This was our benchmark match, our most successful since the start of the season, in terms of our collective play and our athletic performance," said Stéphan, whose side were bitterly disappointed to be knocked out of the Coupe de France semis by an ultra-late Saint-Etienne goal on Thursday night. "We had to turn the tables right away and the players gave us the best of answers. There are ten games left and everything's still on the line."

LOSC lash Lyon

Indeed, second-placed Marseille - and direct Champions League qualification - are just six points above them, but the Brittany club do have some hungry Dogues breathing down their necks. LOSC had a tough assignment at home to Olympique Lyonnais but OL youth academy graduate Loïc Rémy was more than happy to cap his new side's dominance with the lone strike that clinched a 1-0 win at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Sunday night's big match.

"This win is a great satisfaction, as is the fact that we've beaten the OL twice this season [1-0 in the first half of the season]," said LOSC boss Christophe Galtier, whose side have won six of their last seven league outings. "Rennes are in great shape and played an extraordinary game, so we had to win to stay close to them. I think we're too far adrift to catch Marseille though."

Dolberg doubles up

The result leaves LOSC eight-points clear of fifth-placed Reims, who leapfrogged OL with a 1-0 win at home to Brest - courtesy of 18-year-old Mali youth international El Bilal Touré's second of the season - as did Nice, who had ice-cold Dane Kasper Dolberg to thank for their 2-0 success over Côte d'Azur derby rivals Monaco.

Monaco did open the scoring, however, with Wissam ben Yedder taking his season tally to a personal-best 18 - joining PSG's Kylian Mbappé at the top of the scorers chart - but Dolberg's finishing was just too good - a subtle glancing header and an uncanny near-post chip in the final minute - and Patrick Vieira's side duly ran out 2-1 winners. 

Monaco slip to ninth with the defeat and now sit just a point above tenth-placed Angers, whose 2-0 win over Nantes left them on 39 points - right in the middle of a congested mid-table where just four points separate fifth-placed Reims from Nantes in 13th.

Struggles continue for Coupe finalists Sainté

Despite winning through to the Coupe de France final - in which they will face PSG at the Stade de France on Saturday, 25 April - Saint-Etienne find themselves on the very brink of the drop zone - just three points clear of 18th-placed Nîmes - after Englishman Josh Maja struck to capitalise on Mahdi Camara's red card and cancel out Denis Bouanga's opener - claiming a share of the points 1-1 as he did so.


Metz kept daylight between themselves and the drop - despite the continued suspension absence of captain and top scorer Habib Diallo - with a dramatic 2-1 win over 18th-placed Nîmes, while Toulouse had the consolation of youth academy graduate Quentin Boisgard's breaking their 741-minute Ligue 1 Conforama goal drought with his first-ever top-flight strike as they fell 2-1 to 16th-placed Dijon.