Week 15 review: OM firm in second as Montpellier march continues
A wonder goal from Nemanja Radonjic saw OM beat Brest 2-1 to open a four-point lead over third but Andy Delort outdid him with a goal of the season contender as Montpellier beat Amiens 4-2 to go fourth.
With PSG having their trip to Monaco postponed amid torrential rains, second-placed Marseille cut the capital club's lead atop the Ligue 1 Conforama standings to a provisional five points with a dramatic late 2-1 win at home Brest on Friday.
AVB: 'Everything was perfect'
Bouna Sarr had converted OM's dominance with the opener, but a leveller from Irvin Cardona with just two minutes left had André Vilas-Boas' side dreading the loss of two valuable points. However, Serbian forward Nemanja Radonjic quickly gave a glimpse of his true quality with a stunning curled strike from the edge of the area to make it four wins in a row for the southern giants.
"It's our best match of the season, but also the most stressful. I was a little concerned about some of the players being tired because of the pressing they did for 90 minutes. We had 34 shots, 13 inside the penalty area. We could have won 5-1," said AVB, who really seems to have gotten things to click at OM since taking over in the summer. "Everything was perfect: the pressing, winning the ball back, our play. It ended with a minute of terror and a minute of magic. It's just a shame that we suffered a bit at the end when we sat back a bit and conceded a goal. Being second gives us confidence and calmness."
Nice work eases Vieira pressure
The win saw OM open up a four-point lead over Week 15 opponents Angers, who saw Nice claw their way back from a goal down to win 3-1 in a superb fight-back - featuring goals from Arnaud Lusamba, Myziane Maolida and Kasper Dolberg - that eased the pressure on coach Patrick Vieira after a run of nine matches without a win.
"It was a difficult scenario and the first goal put doubt in our minds. Despite the goal and the problems from a psychological standpoint, we kept playing. At half-time I said we needed to get the ball wide and get in behind and in the end we deserved the win," said Vieira, whose side climbed from 15th to 12th with the result. "We played our football and there was some beautiful football played at times. In order to be consistent, we need to believe in what we're putting into place."
Delort screamer in six-goal thriller
Montpellier were the weekend's biggest winners, handing Amiens a 4-2 loss at the Stade de la Mosson that featured a goal of the season contender from club top scorer Andy Delort, who moved to five strikes for the season. Amiens mixed it with the home side for the first hour or so - with Gaël Kakuta scoring his first goal in a year and half - but then Juan Otero received his marching orders and Michel Der Zakarian's side ran away with it, climbing to fourth in the process.
"We knew it would be a difficult match against a team that had just lost 4-0 at home and wanted to bounce back. It was a difficult game, even if we won it 4-2 and controlled things better at 11 v 10. Their red card helped us," opined Der Zakarian. "It's good that our attacking players scored, as that will give confidence to those players, which is something important for us."
OL dig deep as Cornet shines
Lyon were the weekend's only away winners, coming from a goal down to triumph 2-1 away to in-form Strasbourg thanks to Maxwel Cornet, who cancelled out Youssouf Fofana's opener and then set up Jeff Reine-Adélaïde - who bagged his second in as many matches - for the winner.
"We got home from Saint Petersburg at five in the morning on Thursday so it's normal that some of the lads suffered from cramp," said OL boss Rudi Garcia, whose side's hopes of a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds hand in the balance after the 2-0 loss to Zenit on Wednesday. "We're not cheats and that's something I explained to [Strasbourg coach] Thierry Laurey, someone I adore. We were really shattered. This was a real squad victory and I really appreciated the team effort and the way everybody gave everything."
First loss for Puel
OL would also have been happy to see that arch-rivals Saint-Etienne fell to their first defeat under newly installed former Lyon coach Claude Puel, Rennes captain Damien Da Silva nodding home deep into second-half injury time to make it 2-1 after Raphinha's third in three matches had cancelled out Loïs Diony's early opener for Les Verts.
The win provided some consolation for the Brittany club after their mid-week ousting from the UEFA Europa League, but added to the woes of Puel, whose side suffered a similar fate in Europe on Thursday. LOSC also saw their continental ambitions die out during the week, a 2-0 defeat to Ajax in the UEFA Champions League capping a troubled campaign, but Christophe Galtier's men bounced back as eight-goal club top scorer Victor Osimhen clinched a 1-0 win over 18th-placed Dijon.
Canaris on song
Meanwhile in-form Bordeaux were held 1-1 at Reims and dip from fourth to fifth, locked on points with Nantes, who got their first league win since early October 2-1 at home to Toulouse, while Habib Diallo and Renaud Ripart traded blows for Metz and Nîmes respectively as the two strugglers drew 1-1 in the south of France.