Portugal international Gelson Martins was in fine form for Monaco on Sunday evening as his side drew 3-3 with Paris Saint-Germain during a classic Ligue 1 encounter in the French capital.
Martins scored one goal and played a vital role in another, as well as impressing throughout the evening as Monaco earned a valuable point at the Parc des Princes. The draw meant Andre Villas-Boas and Marseille cut PSG’s lead at the top of the table to five points and strengthened their position in second place.
The meeting in Paris was Monaco’s first league match under new boss Robert Moreno, who replaced Portuguese Leonardo Jardim on the Monegasques’ bench late last month. Jardim was fired despite a 5-1 win over Lille in his last game in charge, with Moreno seen as an exciting appointment after a brief spell at the helm of Spain last year.
Moreno employed a 4-4-2 formation, stepping away from the three central defenders systems favoured by Jardim so far this season. Gelson, who has often played in a wing-back role under Jardim of late, took his place on the right side in the 4-4-2, while fellow Portuguese Adrien Silva and Gil Dias took their places on the bench.
Gelson was hugely impressive under his new manager and scored his 4th league goal of the season in a frantic opening to the match. Neymar put PSG ahead after just three minutes, but Gelson levelled just a few minutes later when he raced onto a loose ball and converted after Wissam Ben Yedder was brought down by goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Monaco then stunned the home crowd by taking a 13th-minute lead through Ben Yedder’s clinical finish.
The lead did not last long, with PSG back level at 2-2 through Fode Ballo-Toure’s own goal (24’) before Gelson turned culprit. The former Sporting man’s ill-judged challenge on Neymar resulted in a penalty, which the Brazilian converted. Gelson made amends for the only goal of the second half, however, demonstrating neat footwork before setting up ex-Sporting man Islam Slimani to make it 3-3 on 70 minutes.
Gelson ended the game with 9 dribbles, more than double that of anyone else in the Monaco side and second only to Neymar (10) on the pitch. The 24-year-old was withdrawn for the final ten minutes, while Adrien Silva was introduced five minutes from time to help the visitors see out the draw.
“We were lucky” – Villas-Boas
Second-place Marseille continued their fantastic run of results under Andre Villas-Boas with a 1-0 win over nearest challengers Rennes on Friday evening. A late goal from substitute Kevin Strootman saw Villas-Boas’ side snatch victory and make it 25 points from the last 27 on offer, with Marseille having won eight of their last nine matches.
Strootman’s 84th-minute strike means Marseille are now eight points ahead of Rennes in the automatic Champions League places, albeit having played one game more. Speaking after the match, Villas-Boas admitted his team were far from being at their best at Roazhon Park.
“The fairest result would have been a draw,” the former Porto boss said. “The two teams were good first half, but in the second half we backed off and we played badly as we couldn’t put three passes together. We held it together defensively but we had zero going forward. We made some changes to try and get nearer to the Rennes goal, which brought the foul and free-kick which was decisive.
“We were a bit lucky this evening but we may have eliminated a direct rival, whereas before the match we said we would have been happy enough with a point. In this type of match the first team to score kills the game. Reaching January in this position with such a lead over our direct competitors is good.
“The rest of the season? We are in control of the situation. Everything depends on us. Our attitude is incredible, we have almost the same team as last year but they show a personality, strength and courage which was not there last year.”
Elsewhere in France this weekend, Bordeaux’s downturn in results continued with a 2-1 home defeat to Lyon. After a strong start to the season, Sousa’s men have struggled in recent weeks and four defeats in a row sees them drop down to 13th in the table. Lille had Renato Sanches and Xeka in the line-up for their disappointing 1-0 loss at Dijon on Sunday afternoon.
By Sean Gillen