Greg Stephens brings you all the weekends proceedings in his Ligue 1 round-up.
Having served a weeks hiatus due to the international break, Ligue 1 was back this weekend. Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain both played on the Friday night with them both having Champions League fixtures midweek, which is something that the FFF always accommodate for.
Defending Ligue 1 champions, Montpellier, travelled to newly-promoted Reims but were unable to bring any points away from the Stade Auguste Delaune, suffering a 3-1 defeat. Although dominating possession for the majority of the first-half, they found themselves going into the break a goal down. Rémy Cabella levelled shortly after the restart for La Paillade and, once again, the attacking impetus was theirs. Not for too long, though as fifteen minutes later, Christopher Glombard produced a fine individual effort that saw the hosts regain the lead. Montpellier were unable to come back from this blow and the icing was put on the cake for Reims as Gaëtan Courtet scored with four minutes remaining to make it 3-1.
Paris Saint-Germain, having recorded their first win of the domestic season against Lille last time out, were hoping for a similar outcome when Toulouse visited the Parc de Princes on Friday evening. Although Toulouse put up quite a fight in the capital, PSG’s class was ultimately too much for Alain Casanova’s side. Javier Pastore opened the scoring in the thirty-eighth minute when Marco Verratti’s through ball allowed Pastore to lob it over the oncoming ‘keeper, Ali Ahamada – this was the first goal that PSG have scored this season that hasn’t come from their talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The big Swede was once again on target later in the match to put the game past Toulouse and take his tally for the season to five (from only four games). Carlo Ancelotti will have been pleased by the performance and can now set his sights on the task-at-hand on Tuesday: their opening group fixture in the Champions League against Dynamo Kyiv.
Lille were held to a draw by newly-promoted ESTAC Troyes. Dimitri Payet opened the scoring for Lille, only for Sébastien Grax to cancel it out with a late equaliser for the home side. Before the game, Troyes had only picked up a single point from a possible twelve, yet still managed to double their tally in gameweek five in what most would consider to be an ‘upset’.
Although Troyes managed to grab a point against Lille, it still saw them drop to the foot of the table as struggling Sochaux managed to secure their first points of the season, beating Saint-Etienne 1-0 away from home, courtesy of Thierry Doubai. OGC Nice, until week five, had yet to win a game in Ligue 1 this season. They were 4-2 victors against Stade Brestois 29 at home and never really looked like losing. Another team that managed to gain their first three points of the campaign during gameweek five was Evian TG who produced an impressive 3-0 home victory over SC Bastia. Cédric Barbosa, Evian’s captain, scored a brace which was more than enough to fend off the challenge of Bastia.
Bordeaux had started this campaign brightly, and continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 0-0 draw in the Stade du Hainaut against an equally impressive Valenciennes. A draw was a good result for both sides, which only saw Bordeaux drop a place down to 5th due to PSG’s win on Friday night.
There were three matches on Sunday, where all the top three teams were in action. It began with FC Lorient’s action-packed trip to Rennes. Christian Gourcuff’s side took the lead thanks to a wonder-goal from Alain Traoré. They were soon reduced to ten-men, however, as full-back Maxime Baca was dismissed. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Lorient went on to double their lead before half-time courtesy of yet another contender for goal of the season by Traoré; a rocket of a free-kick that allowed Lorient to try and defend their two-goal cushion. Just eight minutes after the restart, Fabien Audard – Lorient’s ‘keeper – was also sent for an early bath, leaving his side with just nine men. Rennes obviously applied more pressure with the numerical advantage, but only managed to drag one goal back and also succeeded in getting one of their own players sent off, too. Cheick Diarra was given the marching orders after another nasty high challenge on Traoré.
With their victory, Lorient overtook Lyon and found themselves in second, albeit for a matter of hours. Lyon knew they could leapfrog Marseille and apply pressure to them if they could overcome Ajaccio at the Stade de Gerland, which they dutifully succeeded in doing. Dejan Lovren and Lisandro López were reinstated to the Lyon side after recovering from injuries, and both managed to get themselves on the scoresheet on their return to first-team action. This victory saw Lyon sit on top of the table – a place they’ve not been so used to being since their period of dominance in France – for a while… until Marseille played Nancy.
Jordan Ayew scored the only goal of the game to continue Marseille’s perfect start to the season, securing maximum points from all their first five games. The scoreline could have been a lot more emphatic had André-Pierre Gignac put on his goalscoring boots that he’d been wearing before the international break. Marseille’s top-scorer could have netted himself a first-half hat-trick on another day, but the main thing is the Marseille won, and they can now concentrate on their Europa League game on Thursday: a tough away fixture at Fenerbahçe.