Ligue 1 roundup: PSG back to winning ways after beating Montpellier


Ligue 1 roundup: PSG back to winning ways after beating Montpellier

Lionel Messi was on target for PSG
Lionel Messi was on target for PSGAFP
Paris Saint-Germain got themselves back to winning ways with a 3-1 triumph over Montpellier HSC at Stade de la Mosson, despite an earlier penalty miss and seeing two goals disallowed for offside.

Montpellier - PSG 1-3

Despite the weekend’s victory at Auxerre, Montpellier’s pre-match form was woeful, and they remained on the edge of this season’s extended four-team relegation zone ahead of this clash. The visit of a PSG side also determined to improve on recent results only looked set to make the situation worse for Olivier Pitau’s men, and there were fears of going behind after just seven minutes when Christopher Jullien bundled over Sergio Ramos in the penalty area, and the referee pointed to the spot.

Returning goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, fresh from a stoppage-time penalty save in his first match back at the club last weekend, heroically stopped both Kylian Mbappé’s initial effort and a retake, in which he tipped the ball onto the post before the France international skied the rebound. That was to be Mbappé’s last major contribution of the match too, as he was substituted through injury.

As a consequence of his departure, the Parisians failed to trouble Lecomte again before HT, though Lionel Messi briefly thought he had the opener after a delicate dink over the goalkeeper, only to see his goal chalked off for offside. Christophe Galtier’s side came out of the tunnel undeterred and reinvigorated, and it wasn’t long before they once again had the ball in the back of the net, as Achraf Hakimi fired into the top corner from 30 yards, but an offside in the build up ensured this one was also ruled out.

PSG responded well though, and finally took the lead when substitute Hugo Ekitike pounced on a loose ball and headed it into the path of Fabián Ruiz, who was tasked with simply steering the ball into the empty net. Montpellier started to threaten, and Stephy Mavididi saw a great chance saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the capital side were straight up the other end, and Ruiz turned creator with a brilliant through ball to Messi, who brilliantly slid the ball into the corner for his side’s killer second.

Montpellier were given some hope late on against the run of play, when Arnaud Nordin skipped ahead of a defender and whipped the ball past a helpless Donnarumma. However, their dreams were crushed by PSG on the counter, as Warren Zaïre-Emery got in behind and drove his shot past Lecomte. Ultimately, it was business as usual for PSG, while Montpellier extended their home league record to six games without victory, and will be looking over their shoulder at the teams behind them.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Fabián Ruiz (Paris Saint-Germain)

Lens - Nice 0-1

After the Blood and Gold’s surprise 1-1 draw against Troyes at the weekend, Franck Haise made five changes to his starting XI. One of those, Wesley Saïd, was involved in a neat one-two early on with Seko Fofana, who went down under the challenge of a recovering Aaron Ramsey in the box, but after a VAR review, play was allowed to continue. At the other end, the Eagles were close to soaring into the lead, with 18-year-old Antoine Mendy, on his full Ligue 1 debut, controlling a Ramsey pass and drawing a smart save from former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba.

Both sides then made injury-enforced substitutions midway through the first half, the visitors bringing on Pablo Rosario for influential midfielder Hicham Boudaoui, while Deiver Machado replaced Massadio Haïdara for the hosts. Not long afterwards, Lens had their first real chance of the contest when Saïd was slipped in by David Costa, but after rounding Kasper Schmeichel, he was initially unable to pull the trigger before seeing a shot blocked by centre-back stalwart Dante, who turns 40 later this year.

In truth, the opening period was light on major incidents, but neither Haise nor opposite number Didier Digard elected to make any half-time changes. Shortly after the break, Jean-Clair Todibo’s outstretched attempt to block Przemysław Frankowski’s cross was sufficient to put off Adrien Thomasson as the January signing arrived in a dangerous area. Unexpectedly though, Nice got their noses in front thanks to Laborde, who stole in at the back post to convert Mendy’s brilliant header across goal from Ramsey’s whipped corner.

In response to that setback, Haise threw on his two top scorers this term, Loïs Openda and Florian Sotoca, before captain Fofana rattled the crossbar from distance. However, they were unable to find a way through a resolute Nice side, who are now unbeaten in four under interim manager Digard and are up to eighth.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Antoine Mendy (Nice)

Lyon - Brest 0-0

Lyon looked to control the narrative from the off, heavily out-possessing their visitors. But the final ball was constantly lacking for Les Gones, much to the frustration of the home crowd. Rayan Cherki was at the hub of Lyon’s attacking threats, and proved to be a problem for the Brest rearguard. Lyon continued to press for the opener, and looked for all the world to find it in the dying minutes of the half. However, Bradley Barcola hit his point blank effort straight into the waiting arms of the keeper to keep the scoreline untouched at the break.

Les Gones picked up where they left off in the first half, pushing Brest deep into their own half. But frustratingly, Laurent Blanc’s side struggled in front of goal. They hoped for luck from dead-ball situations, but none could be found. Maxence Caqueret saw his free-kick tipped over the bar just past the hour mark, pouring more salt on the Lyon wounds in the final third.

Four straight league games without defeat for Brest will be seen as great improvement after a sluggish start to their campaign in 2022. However, they still have plenty of work to do in their bid for Ligue 1 survival, currently sitting only one point clear of the drop zone.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Marco Bizot (Brest)

Monaco - Auxerre 3-2

Monaco’s five-match unbeaten run after the World Cup has thrust them into Ligue 1’s top four in recent weeks, and Les Monégasques certainly showed their confidence early on here. Axel Disasi’s 25-yard effort skimmed the crossbar in the opening minutes and set the tone for Monaco’s dominant first-half display. Moments later, Youssouf Fofana’s first-time through ball released Wissam Ben Yedder behind Auxerre’s defence and the striker curled into the bottom corner past Ionuț Radu.

Auxerre regained some composure after their hopes of a first Ligue 1 away clean sheet were shattered, but looked unlikely to break their four-match goalless run. After a brief spell of possession, Ligue 1’s lowest scorers were soon on the back foot again. Eliesse Ben Seghir, whose only league goals this season came in Monaco’s 3-2 victory at Auxerre in December, struck again when he was given space on the edge of the area to unleash an unstoppable strike past a full-stretch Radu.

Monaco were well on their way to a third consecutive home victory and seemed content to hold on to their two-goal advantage. Suddenly however, Les Monégasques found themselves penned back and Auxerre ended their barren spell without a goal at 445 minutes when substitute Nuno Da Costa played a well-weighted pass to Matthis Abline, who raced clear of Monaco’s defence and slotted under Alexander Nübel. Auxerre then drove forward in search of an equaliser and Da Costa nearly levelled by reacting first to a loose ball in the area and thumped the post with a low strike.

Breel Embolo all-but sealed the points for Monaco when the forward turned his marker and lashed a powerful effort into the roof of the net to restore the two-goal lead. That would last for less than two minutes, however, as Da Costa finally got his goal and gave Auxerre some late hope with a fierce strike under Nübel. Monaco regained composure, but were glad to hear the final whistle as they extended their unbeaten run to six in Ligue 1. Despite a sixth consecutive defeat. Auxerre will take hope from their late flourish, but remain five points adrift of safety.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Eliesse Ben Seghir (Monaco)

Rennes - Strasbourg

Three minutes is all it took for Rennes to storm into the lead, thanks to a powerful deflected finish by French U21 prodigy Amine Gouiri following Adrien Truffert’s inch-perfect assist which found him loitering in the box. Riding on the back of his third goal contribution in as many H2Hs, the Lyon youth product quickly doubled his tally midway through the half from a simple tap-in after forcing a backline mishap.

As the only remaining side yet to win a home league game this season, Strasbourg might have thought playing away could help. That wasn't the case, with the early two-goal deficit marking a potential second straight defeat for the visitors following a promising start to new coach Matheiu Le Scornet’s tenure. Dominating play, Les Rennais almost tripled their lead on the verge of HT via Benjamin Bourigeaud, after the Frenchman struck the crossbar with a fantastic effort from outside the box.

The Alsace outfit were made to pay further for their shortcomings, as teenage talent Désiré Doué took less than six second-half minutes to all but confirm a 10th league defeat for the visitors this season – one more than what they tasted in the entirety of the previous campaign. Le Scornet resorted to pushing the hosts on the back foot with possession-based play following a triple substitution. It didn’t bother the hosts however, as Bruno Génésio’s side appeared to take pity on Le Racing by comfortably soaking up pressure and looking to strike on the counter.

Strasbourg ultimately failed to score in just a second away game this season, albeit to the best defensive home side in the league who have conceded just seven goals. It sees Strasbourg dragged further into the extended relegation zone, sandwiched between Ajaccio and Auxerre. Meanwhile, a joint league-high tenth home win means Les Rennais are well in contention for Ligue 1's European spots

Flashscore Man of the Match: Amine Gouiri (Rennes)


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