Week 17 review: OM match PSG as top two pull clear
PSG's superstars rallied superbly for a 3-1 come-from-behind win in Montpellier but, not to be outdone, OM trumped Bordeaux with an identical win that left them within five of PSG and six clear of third.
Champions and leaders Paris Saint-Germain now have an 11-point lead over third-placed LOSC - this with a game in hand - and things are looking rosy for Thomas Tuchel's side, who have already stitched up top spot in the UEFA Champions League group despite having Wednesday's home game against Galatasaray still to play.
Although the star-studded side struggled early in Montpellier, with injuries to Presnel Kimpembe and Idrissa Gueye followed by an own-goal from substitute Leandro Paredes, their quality shone through. Following a 73rd-minute red card for Montpellier defender Pedro Mendes, Neymar levelled matter with a trademark free-kick before Kylian Mbappé hit his fourth in five matches against La Paillade, paving the way for Mauro Icardi to hit his 11th in 14 matches for PSG and wrap it up 3-1.
"The pitch was horrible, Montpellier were very strong, we soon had two players injured and the atmosphere was very special. It was an extraordinary match and a beautiful win, one that we deserved and I'd like to congratulate my team," said coach Thomas Tuchel after the late win. "Neymar and Mbappé? It hasn't been easy for them as they've both often been absent and they're only just starting to play together this season. At the end of the day they won us the game."
Marseille on the march
OM were not to be outdone, however, and got the better of Bordeaux by the same scoreline to notch a sixth consecutive Ligue 1 Conforama victory. An utterly stunning first-time strike from Bordeaux teenager Yacine Adli put the visitors ahead, but like PSG, OM hit back in the second half, with Jordan Amavi levelling and Morgan Sanson putting his side in front before Nemanja Radonjic hit his third in four matches to keep his side within five points of leaders and eternal rivals PSG.
"We were a little disappointed at half-time because our work hadn't paid off. We dominated the whole game," said OM boss André Villas-Boas, whose side now have a six-point lead over third. "After the break, we changed a few things. [Left-back Jordan] Amavi's goal gave us the confidence boost we needed. It was a perfect match because the guys are mentally there and are in incredible physical condition."
Sousa: 'We're on the right track'
Meanwhile AVB's compatriot Paulo Sousa, who has really whipped Bordeaux into shape since taking the reins in March this year, was as upbeat as could be expected.
"My players' control of their emotions dipped [after the break] against a very experienced team, with good players, very well organised. Their supporters started to push as one mistake and then another gave motivation to our opponents," explained the Portuguese after seeing his side dip from third to fifth. "What happened will help the players to develop. Everything we showed in the first half shows that we're on the right track, but a mistake on our part gave them the chance to get into the game."
Osimhen strikes again
After a tough month of November, Christophe Galtier's LOSC made it back-to-back wins in December, following their 1-0 win over Lyon with victory over Brest by the same scoreline. Nigeria goal machine Victor Osimhen bagging his ninth of the season - all of which have come at the Stade Pierre Mauroy - to take his side into third place.
"We had 16 shots, got 10 on target, their goalkeeper was very good. It's an important win," I'm very happy for my players. That's three successive wins without conceding a goal. We're making progress defensively, but we have to improve going forward, we have to be more clinical."
Monaco, OL win big
Monaco pushed their way to the brink of the top half of the table with a 3-0 win over Amiens, Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder hitting his 11th of the season as Amiens dipped to the very brink of the drop zone with a fourth reverse in a row.
Lyon have been blowing hot and cold in recent weeks but, encouragingly as they head into a do-or-die UEFA Champions League clash with RB Leipzig on Tuesday, they had Memphis Depay's brace to lead them to a 4-0 win away to a struggling Nîmes side who had Théo Valls and Gaëtan Paquiez sent off in the first half.
The four-goal win was the biggest of a round that saw the highest goal tally of the season so far - 35 - and took OL to seventh, three points shy of LOSC and, perhaps more importantly to the OL faithful - ahead of arch-rivals Saint-Etienne on goal difference.
Reims run riot
Les Verts went unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions after new boss Claude Puel took over, but they have won just two of their last three after coming unstuck in Reims, where Rémi Oudin, Boulaye Dia and Moussa Doumbia made Romain Hamouma's second in as many matches a mere consolation.
Sainté's victims last time out, OGC Nice, needed to bounce back at home to Metz in order to avoid becoming embroiled in the relegation conversation, and did so in style, Wylan Cyprien leading the way with two goals before Ignatius Ganago and Pierre Less-Melou set each other up to complete the 4-1 win that took them 13th.
Angers skid as Nantes, Strasbourg get up
Just above them in 12th are Angers, who fell victim to a brace from Mbaye Niang as Rennes handed Stéphane Moulin's men a 2-1 defeat - their third in as many matches, a poor run that has seen them plummet from the heights of third place.
Nantes bounced back from defeat against PSG in Week 16 by beating Dijon 1-0 thanks to Ludovic Blas' third in five matches, going sixth in the process, while Strasbourg continued their trend of goal-filled matches as they prevailed 4-2 over bottom club Toulouse and rose to 15th.