PARIS: Lyon tops the French league on goal difference heading into the winter break after beating struggling Nantes 3-0 on Wednesday, while Lille won 3-2 at Montpellier as the frontrunners stayed one point ahead of Paris Saint-Germain.
Defending champion PSG beat Strasbourg 4-0 in an otherwise uninspired performance that saw the home side benefit from three late goals amid sloppy defending from the visitors.
Third-place PSG has lost four times already this season and finds itself in the rare position of chasing other sides.
Defender Timothee Pembele poked PSG ahead in the 18th minute from close range after Angel Di Maria’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Until the latter stages of the game, PSG struggled to break down a defense brilliantly marshalled by 20-year-old Mohamed Simakan, who made several superb tackles to thwart striker Kylian Mbappe and his teammates.
The match was effectively decided when PSG was gifted a goal in the 79th, as substitute Habib Diallo’s poor back pass forced captain Stefan Mitrovic into a botched clearance that allowed Di Maria time to square a simple pass for Mbappe.
Idrissa Gueye then drilled in a fine shot from 25 meters in the 87th and fellow substitute Moise Kean added the fourth goal during injury time as Strasbourg’s defense crumbled.
In southern France, northern side Lille was pegged back twice by Montpellier before veteran Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz settled the match in the 85th.
American forward Timothy Weah the son of Liberia President George Weah put Lille in front midway through the first half with a low shot.
After Gaetan Laborde equalized in the 56th, a penalty from Jonathan Ikone restored Lille’s lead in the 67th, only for striker Andy Delort to level the match two minutes later.
In a dramatic finish, Yilmaz finished neatly before Laborde hit the crossbar in the seventh minute of injury time.
Matters were far more straightforward in Lyon, where the game was all but settled at halftime even without a goal from star forward Memphis Depay.
Lyon took the lead after three minutes when Depay and Houssem Aouar combined to set up forward Karl Toko Ekambi. Fellow forward Tino Kadewere doubled the lead in the 36th, slotting home from a narrow angle after midfielder Lucas Paqueta’s shot was saved.
Kadewere turned provider as Paqueta made it 3-0 moments before the interval with his first goal since joining from Italian side AC Milan.
Lyon has no European matches to play this season and is in a strong position compared to PSG and Lille, who have Champions League and Europa League games to come.
Elsewhere, fourth-place Rennes beat Metz 1-0 thanks to a goal from midfielder Clement Grenier for a fourth straight league win since being eliminated from the Champions League group stage. Rennes finished last and has no Europa League commitments, making it a dangerous outsider for a title push.
The victory moved Rennes three points clear of fifth-placed Marseille, which lost 2-1 at Angers.
But Marseille has played two games fewer than the top four sides, and it also has no European games ahead after also finishing rock-bottom of its Champions League group.
Sixth-place Monaco had 18-year-old Belgian midfielder Eliot Matazo red carded late in the first half in a 2-2 home draw with Saint-Etienne coached by former stalwart Monaco defender Claude Puel.
In other matches, it was: Nimes 1, Dijon 3; Nice 2, Lorient 2; Lens 2, Brest 1 and Bordeaux 1, Reims 3.
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