PSG have a commanding 14-point lead atop the Ligue 1 Conforama standings after their 3-0 win over OM, but are sweating the fitness of Neymar; ASSE clinched a dramatic late derby draw with OL and Montpellier overtook Nantes in the race for fifth.
Paris Saint-Germain’s comprehensive 3-0 Classique win over arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night left little room for doubt that the capital club are well on their way to a seventh French league crown. Unai Emery’s men were imperious and razor-sharp throughout the match and now enjoy a 14-point lead over second-placed AS Monaco as they head into Wednesday’s Coupe de France quarter-final against… Marseille.
Thiago Silva: ‘Stay calm’
“The rivalry is fierce. We are very happy with the result and we have extended our lead in the standings. Now we need to produce a big match on Wednesday in the Cup,” said PSG captain Thiago Silva, whose side will need to be strong on confidence as they build up to the return leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash with Real Madrid. “We have to recover well and come back even stronger because they will be looking for revenge. Our supporters are very excited about the coming weeks, which is great, but we have to stay calm, keep working hard and prepare for these big games in the league, the Cup and in the Champions League.”
Garcia vows to fight another day
The only black spot for the league leaders was seeing superstar Neymar stretchered off with an ankle injury – potentially a sprain that could keep him out of the Real clash – but the performance, which included superb strikes for Kylian Mbappé (the youngest-ever player to score in a Classique) and Edinson Cavani was impressive, even for OM boss Rudi Garcia.
“The pace was too high for us tonight. We have not been 100 per cent. It would have been necessary to be 100 per cent and also that PSG be below their usual level. That was not the case tonight,” said Garcia, for whom the result was a first league loss since Week 18. “We must now focus on Wednesday and return to form to qualify. It will be another match, another competition.”
Debuchy clinches dramatic late derby draw
The weekend’s other big match – the Rhône derby between Olympique Lyonnais and bitter local rivals Saint-Etienne – also dished up plenty of drama, with Mathieu Debuchy continuing his impressive return to French football with a last-gasp equaliser in the 1-1 draw at the Groupama Stadium. Mariano Diaz had put the hosts in front with a superb finish, but it proved insufficient to clinch them a first league win since Week 23’s stunning win over PSG.
“The players gave everything, they were irreproachable. It’s clear that we’re in a difficult period just now. A win tonight was important but we didn’t manage it,” said OL boss Bruno Genesio. “To finish in the top three, if it’s mathematically possible then you keep believing. I believe. There are 11 games left and everything is still possible.”
Tough Toulouse tag Monaco
Meanwhile Monaco firmed in second place, gaining a point on third-placed Marseille with a thrilling 3-3 draw in Toulouse. Leonardo Jardim’s reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions could have gone four points clear with a win, but the TFC are a different team under new boss Michaël Debève and scored twice in the final 12 minutes to clinch a point and stay clear of the drop.
“It is a draw that tastes like a defeat,” said Jardim, for whom young Portuguese winger Rony Lopes scored his first Ligue 1 Conforama double. “The first half was even but in the second half we totally controlled the game. We will continue to fight for second place, and will do so with a smile.”
Nantes cop Kakuta special
Montpellier now occupy fifth place – ahead of sixth-placed Nantes on goal difference – after a 0-0 draw in Strasbourg on Friday night gave them the point they needed to finally get past Les Canaris and into fifth place – the final European qualifying spot. Claudio Ranieri’s side could have eased back in front with a result at home to Amiens, but Gaël Kakuta’s lone strike clinched a 1-0 away win for the promoted side that saw them climb out of the drop zone and into 15th.
Nantes also need to look over their shoulders, as Stade Rennais FC are now just a point behind them following a 2-0 win over ESTAC Troyes. Bordeaux could also have gone within a point of Les Canaris but Gustavo Poyet’s resurgent side hit the woodwork no fewer than four times as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Nice, who have just two wins in their last 12 in all competitions.
Dijon continued their excellent home form with a 2-0 win over SM Caen, while Angers climbed out of the drop zone with a Karl Toko-Ekambi-powered 2-1 win away to 19th-placed LOSC. Despite twice taking the lead, bottom side FC Metz were held to a 2-2 draw in Guingamp, Lucas Deaux’s double leaving the strugglers nine points shy of safety.