Paris Saint-Germain got back to winning ways against Auxerre to keep the victorious Montpellier juggernaut from widening their lead, while Lille, OL and OM all triumphed ahead of make-or-break Champions League fixtures.
After four matches in all competitions without a win – three of them losses, most recently 3-0 in the Clasico – Paris Saint-Germain, and especially coach Antoine Kombouaré, were under serious pressure to rediscover their winning touch, and the men from the capital duly obliged with a thrilling 3-2 win over Auxerre at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night.
The match came alive in the second half as Christophe Jallet opened the scoring (52′), with Jérémy Ménez (76′) cancelling out Dennis Oliech’s 59th-minute equaliser before Brazilian star Nene struck from the spot (80′) to clinch the win despite a late consolation for Auxerre from Dariusz Dudka’s superb free kick (87′).
“Our objective was victory, to get the win, so necessarily I’m happy with what the players produced tonight,” said Kombouaré who, despite the three points, is still widely tipped to be replaced in the PSG dugout. “I’m proud of the spirit they showed, and the quality of their play as well. They got the job done and were able to put my personal situation, and all the criticism, in the background. I like wins like this one that are clinched in adversity. It shows that the players have character.”
Giroud driving success
The result keeps PSG within three points of leaders Montpellier, who continued to astound the French footballing world with a powerhouse 4-0 defeat of Lorient – their fourth win in five league outings – man of the moment Olivier Giroud bagging his 12th goal of the season (47′) in addition to providing assists for Geoffrey Dernis (27′), John Utaka (62′) and Rémy Cabella (86′).
At the moment, things are going our way. We are playing great football and it’s great to watch. I am very happy,” said coach René Girard. “I was waiting to see how we would get on in this game because we have a new status and I didn’t know how we would cope. I am quite surprise by my team. By the football we are playing, but also by the players’ mentality.”
OM, Lille and Lyon prepare well
The weekend also proved successful for ‘s three Champions League representatives, Marseille suggesting that their Clasico win was no fluke by claiming just their second away win of the season, 2-1 in Caen, thanks to goals from André Ayew (21′) and his brother Jordan (52′), whose winner cancelled out Pierre-Alain Frau’s leveller (23′, pen.).
The win takes them to seventh, their highest league position so far after a tough start to the season, and puts them in good stead ahead of a Champions League encounter in Dortmund that they must win to progress to the last 16.
Reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille can also secure qualification with a win at home to Trabzonspor on Wednesday, and Rudi Garcia’s men put themselves in a strong frame of mind with a dramatic 3-2 win away to Ajaccio. Eden Hazard came off the bench to secure a second-straight league win (80′, pen.) and hold onto third place after a see-sawing four-goal first half (Christian Kinkela, 2′; Ludovic Obraniak, 12′; Marko Basa, 16′; Ilan, 37’).
OL hold firm
So too Lyon secured a tough win over Toulouse, 3-2 at the Stade Gerland, piling on three goals (Bakary Koné, 38′; Ederson, 52′; Lisandro, 66′) before weathering a stiff TFC fightback (Umut Bulut, 68′, Moussa Sissoko, 75′, pen.) to climb to fourth place ahead of their away clash with Dinamo Zagreb, where victory – as well as other results going their – are imperative if they are make the Champions League knockout rounds for a ninth-straight season.
Marsiglia off the mark
Elsewhere Rennes fell off the pace, slipping to fifth as they followed up their mid-week Europa League with a 2-0 loss in Nice, for whom Argentine defenders Fabian Monzon (15′, pen.) and Renato Civelli (35′) secured a first win under new coach René Marsiglia.
Striker Nolan Roux marked a stunning return to form for Brest, bagging a brace (23′, 27′) only to see Saint-Etienne’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang do the same (24′, 87′) to ensure a 2-2 draw while Dijon and Sochaux also shared the points 0-0 in Burgundy.
Evian climbed to 11th with their third win in five matches, 2-1 over Valenciennes, who sit just above the drop zone – separated from 17th-placed Nice only by goals scored – while Bordeaux claimed back-to-back wins for the first time this season, 2-0 over Nancy, thanks to goals from Jaroslav Plasil (1′) and Brazilian defender Henrique (52′).