FRANCE: Ligue 1 – Week 9 Review



33 goals flew in this week in Ligue 1, the highest number recorded this year. 11 headers and 5 penalties helped that total as the often gun-shy French top flight slipped on it’s shooting boots before the international break.

Perhaps the most important two of the 33 were scored in Marseille, as Paris Saint-Germain faced their sternest test yet in the defence of their Ligue 1 crown. The Stade Velodrome was packed and ready for a big scalp on Sunday night, and it looked likely after just 30 minutes when Brazilian Thiago Motta was given a straight red card for a challenge on Mathieu Valbuena.

The PSG players were rightly worried, and could only stand by as Andre Ayew stepped up and dispatched the resulting penalty kick to make it 1-0 to Elie Baup’s side.

However, this PSG side, though expensively assembled and capable of some gloriously flashy football at times, proved on the night that they have as much fight in them as anyone. The Paris club were unbeaten in 10 away games, and didn’t allow the loss of Motta to affect their confidence. Their upbeat play was rewarded just before the break, as the unlikely target of Maxwell rose to head home a wonderful finish.

Ibrahimovich and midfielder Blaise Matuidi were influential in the second half, and Marseille never looked likely to press the man advantage. The game was sealed in the 66th minute, as Ayew turned villain and brought down Marquinhos with a clumsy tackle. Zlatan coolly fired home the resulting spot kick and PSG never looked back.

Another vital loss at home to one of their top rivals for OM, who drop to 4th in the table, while PSG remain levels with Monaco at the top.

The principality club secured their place at the top (by virtue of goal difference) in a hard fought battle at with St Etienne. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored Monaco’s first in the 15th minute, becoming only their 4th different scorer this term.

Ranieri’s men could not dominate this St Etienne side, however, and Romain Hamouma pulled the away team level on 49 mins. The stalemate would not last though, as Monaco pushed for the three points, and with just 3 minutes of normal time left, Lucas Ocampos delivered the perfect finish to a James Rodriguez cross and sent the team back to the top of the pile.

Lille now sit in 3rd place, with a solid performance that saw Ajaccio go down 3-0. Salomon Kalou put in quite a performance, troubling the Corsicans’ backline all night. Goals from Souare, Gueye and finally Kalou himself rounded out the win.

Lyon must have thought the worst was over after their win in Ligue 1 last week, however it seems the worst was yet to come. Victor Hugo Montano struck in the 16th minute for Montpellier to ease the home fans nerves, before Remy Cabella began his wonder show.

Cabella provided the cross for Anthony Mounier to head home on 45’. Alexandre Lacazette found the target from range for Lyon to make it 2-1 just after the break, but Cabella had soon restored the lead from the penalty spot. He then doubled his own tally in the 66th minute, cleverly slotting home at the near post.

Two minutes later the rout was complete – that man again, Cabella, providing the perfect assist for Montano to notch his second and Montpellier’s fifth of the evening. Remi Garde will be left wondering what more he can do with his failing side. A 5-1 loss on the road, and a late sending off for Maxime Gonalons mean it is back to the drawing board for the Lyon coach.

Surprise package Nantes managed a 3-0 win over a poor Evian side, scoring the seasons fastest goal in the process. Filip Djordjevic’s fist of the evening came with just 1’53” on the clock, and he added a second just after the half hour mark. The goals were the Nantes captains’ fifth and sixth of the season, as the club rose to 5thplace in the table. Papy Djilobodji added a third goal late on.

Elsewhere, Bastia and Bordeaux managed to notch 4-1 wins at home, against Lorient and Sochaux respectively. Bastia see themselves rise to 10th place, while the two losing clubs join Valenciennes in the relegation zone.

Valenciennes came into a home game against Reims with little confidence, having lost 7 on the bounce. They were done no favours by Prince Oniangue, who gave the away side a 30 minute lead. However, with all seemingly lost, Eloge Enza Yamissi popped up with a late equaliser to earn the home side a point. Unfortunately, things do not look good for coach Daniel Sanchez with the club bottom of the table.

Guingamp will be happy to sit 13th this week as the league breaks for internationals – an excellent 2-0 win in their Brittany derby with Rennes came thanks to goals from Jeremy Sorbon and Mustapha Yatabare.

And finally, Toulouse earned a 1-0 triumph over Nice, who didn’t look like the classy side of the past few weeks in this one. Wissam Ben Yedder scored the only goal of the game to settle it for the home team.


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Andrew Davidson

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