Paris Saint-Germain had a Thomas Meunier brace to thank for their 2-1 win at Dijon FCO. AS Monaco slipped up to leave PSG six points clear, while Olympique de Marseille and RC Strasbourg Alsace shared a six-goal thriller…
Paris opened up a six-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 Conforama over the weekend. Defending champions Monaco kicked-off Week 9 on Friday against Olympique Lyonnais, but were edged 3-2. Nabil Fekir – the France international who was made club captain this summer – bagged a brace, the second of which came in the final minute to seal all three points for OL.
PSG, and more precisely Meunier, took full advantage on Saturday, cutting the mustard against Dijon with a 2-1 win at the Stade Gaston Gérard, Belgium right-back Meunier scored both goals for the capital club, and now has three in five games, after also finding the target in the 6-2 rout of Girondins de Bordeaux before the international break. With coach Unai Emery starting with both Meunier and Dani Alves against Dijon, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod on Wednesday against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League, where Paris currently lead the way in Group B, three points clear of Bayern Munich and Celtic after two games played.
“It was a difficult match, especially after the international break,” said Emery at his post-match press conference, relieved at his side’s second-half performance. “The first 45 minutes were tough, but we spoke at the break. We wanted to attack in the second half to be calmer. We managed to create a lot of chances, it was difficult to score, but the team showed its character to get back in front right at the end of the game and win it. It was deserved.”
Emery’s Monaco cohort Leonardo Jardim lamented the points dropped, but is convinced there’s still time – and the right personnel – to catch PSG. “I think the team showed that we have solutions and that our young players work hard, like Adama Traoré, Rony Lopes and Keita Baldé,” he said. “They all played very positively [against OL] and Soualiho Meïté too. That’s important for the present, and for the future.”
AS Saint-Etienne are currently the best of the rest. Les Verts were trailing FC Metz at their Stade Geoffroy-Guichard 1-0 with less than 20 minutes to play, but a late surge saw them prevail 3-0.
“I’m happy with the reaction of my players,” said Sainté coach Oscar Garcia after Vincent Pajot and Habib Maïga had struck to cancel out Fallou Diagne’s first-half opener. “After the break, we played with a lot of character, determination, and we also showed great spirit. That’s exactly what I want to see. I think we can be happy with our place on the podium right now.”
That third place was sealed at the expense of Marseille. Rudi Garcia’s men concluded the weekend by sharing a six-goal thriller at Strasbourg. The “OM Champions Project” has enjoyed fresh impetus in recent weeks, with three wins in three ahead of Week 8. Les Phocéens twice took the lead, but a leaky defence meant they needed a leveller from Kostas Mitroglou – in his first start – two minutes from time.
“Frustration is the overriding feeling although we have to congratulate Strasbourg – they put three goals past us,” said Garcia post match. “It was a better match for the fans that for us coaches! We gave Strasbourg too much ammunition. We made too many mistakes and they were more committed. Mitroglou was involved in most of our good moves. He can still do more but he needs to be given time. It was a good first game for him.”
Nantes, Bordeaux share spoils
FC Nantes, Bordeaux and SM Caen round out the top eight. Each dropped points over the weekend – Nantes and Bordeaux against each other in a 1-1 draw that saw Malcom cancel out Préjuce Nakoulma’s opener for Les Canaris. The Brazilian, with a hand in a goal in ten of his last 11 Ligue 1 Conforama games, settling some FCGB nerves after his now-infamous selfie with PSG’s Neymar last time out.
Caen’s loss was Angers SCO’s gain meanwhile, with Les Scoïstes running out 2-0 winners to pull up to tenth – the first time since Week 1 that they have occupied the top half of the table. At the other end, LOSC continue to edge away from trouble, although what could so easily have been three points against ESTAC Troyes became one in the final minute, with Edgar Ié given his marching orders for a foul on Adama Niane, who stepped to steer a late equaliser home from the spot.
Britanny bragging rights
Elsewhere, EA Guigamp beat Stade Rennais 2-0 in their Breton derby; Toulouse beat Amiens SC 1-0; whilst Montpellier Hérault Sport Club were 2-0 victors over OCN Nice, leaving last season’s third place team down in 14th.