By S. Willis
PSG bounced back from defeat with a 3-1 win over LOSC, claiming the honorific title of Autumn Champions while chasers OL, Monaco and OM all racked up wins to remain within nine points of the capital club.
Coming off losses to Strasbourg and Bayern Munich – their first defeats of the season in all competitions – Paris Saint-Germain were under pressure at home to LOSC on Saturday, but Unai Emery’s side came up with the goods 3-1 to both steady the ship and make sure they will be in the lead come the winter break, which earns them the title of Autumn Champions.
“After our two defeats, our record went from perfect to very good. But we are fine,” said Emery after the match that saw Argentine internationals Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore shine in the absence of the suspended Neymar. “We finished on top of our Champions League group with a record number of goals. We are ready, and all the more so after what we learned in Munich. I am sure the team will be very strong (coming into the Champions League last 16). I’ll take any team (in Monday’s draw).”
The defeat saw LOSC, who had won their previous two matches under interim boss Fernando Da Cruz, slip back into the drop zone (18th).
Aouar on the rise
Meanwhile, nine points behind leaders PSG, the chasing pack remain locked on 35 points. Olympique Lyonnais had rising star Houssem Aouar to thank for their come-from-behind 2-1 win at Amiens SC, the 19-year-old OL youth academy graduate underlining his emergence by scoring both goals to deny Amiens a first home win of the season.
“We had been warned, but we started the game disastrously; we weren’t in the challenges,” said OL boss Bruno Genesio. “In the second half, we reacted well, especially in the last half-hour. Tanguy [Ndombele] coming off the bench was key. We were lucky, but we also tried to get the equaliser and then the win by rolling our sleeves up.”
So too Monaco struggled somewhat at home to promoted Troyes, with ‘keeper Danijel Subasic doubling down on the howlers to gift South Korean star Hyunjun Suk a brace, but fit-again Thomas Lemar and razor-sharp Guido Carrillo hit their straps in the second half to rescue a 3-2 victory from the jaws of defeat.
“There was lots of emotion and lots of goals, a great fight-back and great spirit shown by the players. We deserved the victory. The team showed a lot of character. That is the most important thing,” said ASM coach Leonardo Jardim. “I am pleased with the comeback. It is our first this season. Last year we did that five times. It is magnificent.”
Sablé: ‘What I saw tonight cannot go on’
Marseille’s near 40-year unbeaten record at home to Saint-Etienne remains intact after a Valère Germain scored his first Ligue 1 Conforama goals for the club since making a summer move from Monaco, sparking a 3-0 win for Rudi Garcia’s side. Les Verts, who are yet to win following coach Oscar Garcia’s quitting in the wake of their 5-0 derby drubbing at the hands of Lyon, were clearly at sea in the Vélodrome and new boss Julien Sablé was not impressed.
“I cannot accept what I saw tonight,” said the former club captain and youth academy head, whose side have slipped to 15th after being as high as third after their last win, Week 9’s 3-1 triumph over FC Metz. “I have never quit; I’m a competitor. What I saw tonight cannot go on. The club is, at this very moment, in danger. It’s not our place to be battling against relegation. Good evening.”
Nice, Strasbourg show form
Claudio Ranieri’s Canaris remain closest to the chasers in fifth place despite coming unstuck 2-1 at home to OGC Nice, for whom Mario Balotelli produced a fine finish to bag his ninth of the season and clinch a welcome third-straight win to take Lucien Favre’s side into the top half of the table (eighth).
Doubtless buoyed by their shock win over PSG, RC Strasbourg Alsace powered on in Bordeaux on Friday night, Stéphane Bahoken scoring early to set the tone for the 3-0 win that stretched the promoted side’s unbeaten run to five matches (three wins) while leaving Jocelyn Gourvennec’s Girondins in 14th place with just one win in their last ten Ligue 1 Conforama outings.
EA Guingamp had a winless month of November but managed to build on their Week 16 win away to Troyes with a 4-0 hammering of inform Dijon FCO, defender Christophe Kerbrat rounding out the scoring with his first-ever Ligue 1 Conforama goal for the club he has played for since 2011.
Stade Rennais have been in strong form under new boss Sabri Lamouchi but couldn’t make it four wins in a row as they travelled to bottom club FC Metz, rescuing a 1-1 draw when Firmin Mubele levelled three minutes from time. However, Rennes remain in sixth place while FC Metz are still 13 points adrift at the foot of the table.
Toulouse got their first win in seven matches, 2-0 at home to SM Caen, to climb out of the relegation places (16th), while Angers missed out on another chance for a first home win of the season as they drew 1-1 with Montpellier.