Week 37 review: PSG keep Monaco waiting
By I. Holyman
AS Monaco moved to within a point of the Ligue 1 title with another goal-filled win in Week 37, but reigning champions PSG did the principality club no favours by also winning big to keep their slim hopes intact.
Monaco took their tally of league goals this season to 102 with a 4-0 defeat of LOSC Lille on Sunday, a victory kickstarted by Radamel Falcao's early goal. The Colombia international snatched another after the break - the former Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC striker now has 21 league goals this term - after Bernardo Silva had also found the net to edge Leonardo Jardim's men to within 90 minutes of their club's first title since 1999-2000.
"Before this game, we needed four points. Now we need a point," said Jardim, whose side will clinch the title by avoiding defeat in Wednesday's rearranged Week 31 home game with AS Saint-Etienne. "I'm asking for one last effort of work and concentration on Wednesday. I respect football. I'm not here to mess around. We saw Barcelona score three goals in three minutes. You always have to respect your opponents."
To the bitter end
That was certainly the attitude PSG took as they ensured Monaco will have to work to wrest away the crown the capital club has worn for the last four seasons. "Monaco still aren't champions, but you have to say that they have had a great season," said PSG coach Unai Emery after watching his team sweep aside Saint-Etienne 5-0 thanks in part to two goals from the league's leading scorer Edinson Cavani, who now has a massive 35 top-flight strikes this term.
"We have to keep improving, always. We now have two important games left: Caen on Saturday, and the Coupe de France final against Angers."
Angers fire up for cup
Angers coach Stéphane Moulin rested a number of his first-team regulars with that 27 May Stade de France date in mind, but was still rewarded with a fantastic display from his reshuffled pack. Goals from Cheikh Ndoye and Karl Toko Ekambi gave the cup finalists a 2-0 win at OGC Nice as they became the first L1 team this season to take all three points from a trip to the Allianz Riviera in what was the final match staged there in 2016-17.
Olympique Lyonnais, already sure of finishing fourth, triumphed 3-1 at Montpellier, who had other results go for them to ensure they will play in Ligue 1 again next season. Olympique de Marseille had Bafétimbi Gomis' 19th strike of the campaign to thank for securing a 1-1 draw at Girondins de Bordeaux to keep Jocelyn Gourvennec's men behind them in the race for fifth place and guaranteed UEFA Europa League qualification.
That battle will go down to the final day of the season when Bordeaux go to FC Lorient and Marseille host SC Bastia. The closing 90 minutes of the season will also matter greatly to their opponents, who are both in desperate need of points to avoid relegation. Lorient, who looked all but doomed to the drop at the turn of the year, lost 2-0 to Bastia to slip back into the bottom three while giving the Corsican side genuine hope of escaping.
Down to the wire
SM Caen, beaten 1-0 at home by Rennes - the Bretons' first away win in 14 matches coming courtesy of Giovanni Sio's goal - need something from a tricky trip to the Parc des Princes against PSG if they are to be confident of not suffering final-day heartbreak as they lie a fragile point and place above the bottom three.
Any of the bottom five, split by just four points, could find themselves going down in Week 38, though the only one already certain to finish in the bottom three is AS Nancy Lorraine.
Promoted last summer, Pablo Correa's men could be set for a speedy return to French football's second tier following their 2-0 defeat to another basement dweller, Dijon FCO. Yet, if Nancy can win at Saint-Etienne on the last day, and Lorient fail to get anything from their game and Bastia do not win, the Lorraine club will finish third from bottom on goal difference and so qualify for the promotion/relegation play-off with the side that finishes third in Ligue 2.
Canaris cap Conceicao comeback
FC Nantes capped a brilliant resurrection under Sergio Conceiçao with a 4-1 victory over En Avant Guingamp in their final home game of the season. Since the Portuguese tactician took over on 8 December, Nantes boast the sixth-best record in the division, and their 2017-18 campaign promises much. Toulouse FC initially did so this term, but Pascal Dupraz's men will have to settle for a mid-table finish after their 1-1 draw with FC Metz, secured by a personal best-equalling 11th goal of the season from Denmark international Martin Braithwaite.