Week 10 review: Monaco push continues, Di Maria driving PSG
By S. Willis
Monaco had prolific strike duo Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani to thank for their third-straight win, a 3-2 over Rennes, while Angel Di Maria was on fire as PSG hammered Nice 4-1 to open up a five-point lead at the top.
Winless in their first six this season, AS Monaco now boast the league's top scorer - Wissam Ben Yedder (eight goals) - and the top assist provider - Islam Slimani (six assists) - after a thrilling 3-2 win over Rennes on Sunday afternoon. The former struck with two stunning half-volleys, one of which was set up by the latter, who also notched a goal of his own, as Leonardo Jardim's men won a five-goal thriller at the death.
"I'm very happy - it was not an easy game. We scored at the last second," said Ben Yedder, the division's most prolific marksman after his dramatic injury-time winner. "It's a very nice goal, I'm very happy. It was a tough match, but sometimes these matches do you good."
While the result was a clear confirmation of the resurgence of Jardim's side, it also marked an alarming nine matches without a win in all competitions for Julien Stéphan's Rennes. Despite a feisty performance and a superb solo goal from Faitout Maouassa, they slip to 12th.
"There's a lot of disappointment and it was cruel for us to concede in added time," said Stéphan, who revitalised the team when he was appointed coach in December last year, and whose side face Cluj at home in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday. "We were beaten by the talent of Ben Yedder as he scored an exceptional goal. Very few forwards in the French game are capable of scoring such a goal."
The longer Paris Saint-Germain's injury crisis continues, the clearer it becomes how much strength in depth the capital club boasts - notably in the form of Angel Di Maria. While fellow forwards Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé have been out injured in the early stages of the season, the Argentine has been racking up the strong performances, and Friday night's trip to take on Nice was the best of the bunch.
"Angel is capable of incredible things. Sometimes he looks to play in his team-mates too much. Sometimes he makes his decisions too quickly, but when he is relaxed and takes his time then he's decisive," said coach Thomas Tuchel, whose side enjoy a five-point lead at the top as they travel to Belgium for Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League clash.
Classique hotting up
The win also saw a fit-again Kylian Mbappé come off the bench to score, which is great news for the Parisian faithful with the Classique at home to arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille coming up on Sunday. Similarly, Sunday night provided an encouraging result for OM as André Villas-Boas' men ground out a 2-0 win at home to Strasbourg.
Teenage defender Boubacar Kamara hit his second-ever goal for the club early on before Dutch international Kevin Strootman struck late from the spot in injury time - also his second OM goal - but AVB was keen to stay measured as one of the biggest fixtures of the season looms.
"This victory is well deserved. Okay, we didn't play the best game in the world, but it was a solid performance and not an undeserved win. But we didn't play a very intense match," said the Portuguese before hinting that a certain France playmaker could be fit again for this weekend's trip to the capital. "Now we're going to get [Dimitri] Payet back, back from suspension. He is a very important player who will bring us a lot."
Kombouaré on top in debutante battle
Meanwhile two coaches were making their bows with new clubs - Rudi Garcia at Olympique Lyonnais and Antoine Kombouaré at Toulouse FC - and enjoying different fortunes. OL looked bright under their new boss, dominating and getting ten shots on target, but an impressive Alfred Gomis in the Dijon goal kept them scoreless and the 0-0 result saw Houssem Aouar and co go eight matches without a win - the club's worst run in 42 years.
"The statistics show that we had lots of chances, lots of shots on goal, and in terms of shots on target it wasn't bad. We had lots of corners, we put lots of crosses in, but there was only Moussa [Dembélé] who was able to compete with Dijon's giant central defenders," said an upbeat Garcia, who moves straight on to continental duties and Wednesday's UEFA Champions League trip to Lisbon to face Benfica. "If we were to replay this match 10 times, we would win nine times."
The result saw OL dip to 17th while Toulouse went the other way to 15th place after Kombouaré tasted victory in his first outing with the club, the electric Yaya Sanogo and Max-Alain Gradel getting the goals in a 2-1 win over LOSC who, winless in three, dip to seventh ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League trip to Valencia.
Diallo doing the job
Promoted FC Metz also clambered out of the bottom three, thanks to talismanic striker Habib Diallo. The Senegalese has scored the vast majority of his club's goals this season - now a whopping seven out of nine - and it was he who hit the only goal of the game to secure a 1-0 win over Nantes, who nonetheless remain in second place.
Hot on Les Canari's heels, however, are Stade de Reims, whose 1-0 win over Montpellier - which came courtesy of giant Moroccan defender Yunes Abdelhamid - took them from sixth to third, just two points shy of Christian Gourcuff's side and seven short of Paris in top spot.
Three in a row for Puel's Sainté
Bordeaux were beaten 1-0 at home by Saint-Etienne, Denis Bouanga's late penalty sealing Les Verts' third win in a row - and second under new coach Claude Puel - ahead of their UEFA Europa League clash at home to FC Olexandriya on Thursday.
Promoted Brest scored a crucial win 1-0 in Angers - courtesy of Irvin Cardona's beautiful near-post finish - to climb into the top half of the table, while Nîmes remain in 19th after a 1-1 draw at home to Amiens.