Paris Saint-Germain kick-off Ligue 1’s attendance record-breaking weekend with a win
PSG kicked-off the weekend’s action on Friday night with a 3-1 win against Lens on a Matchday which saw more fans attend Ligue 1 matches than any other weekend in the league’s history. The game, despite entertaining in many footballing aspects, was overshadowed by near chaotic second-half decision making from referee Nicolas Rainville.
The result sees PSG move up to 2nd place in the league, overtaking Bordeaux. Lens, who were hosting PSG at the Stade de France because of current redevelopments taking place at the Stade Félix-Bollaert, now sit in last place, in the ‘laterne rouge’ position, two points adrift from safety.
Added to the prolonged absences of Lavezzi and Ibrahimoivc, PSG were dealt a blow in preparation for the hotly anticipated match when central defenders David Luiz, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva were all ruled out of squad inclusion. Blanc announced in his weekly press conference that Thiago Motta could be forced to play at centre-half and that’s where he started, alongside the veteran Camara.
Any pre-match thoughts of PSG being able to treat this Paris-based fixture as a home game were dispelled on ten minutes as Adamo Coulibaly’s deflected shot curled past Salvatore Sirigu to put les Lensois one-nil up after a well worked counter attack and to give the men from the West side of the city an uncomfortable start in the northern suburbs.
Things went from bad to worse for Blanc’s side ten minutes later as Blaise Matuidi had come off with an injury, which saw Bahebeck come on to play upfront and Pastore pushed back down into PSG’s midfield three. Cabaye, perhaps the only man to benefit from les Parisiens’ injury crisis – as it has enabled him to play in his favoured central-midfield position – then leveled when he scored his first Ligue 1 goal for PSG with a tidy finish from the edge of the box. PSG then doubled their goal tally when Brazilian left-back Maxwell lobbed Riou with an audacious right-foot effort.
After a quiet start to the second-half, madness kicked-off in perhaps the most intense spell of the season so far. On 53 minutes, Gbamin was harshly dismissed with a second yellow card when it was judged that he had unfairly impeded Cavani in the Lensois box.
Cavani, who has been under increasing scrutiny because of his lack of consistency this season, then converted the spot kick superbly. However, in perhaps the most controversial decision we’ll see in Ligue 1 this season, Cavani was then also sent-off by Rainville. The Uruguayan celebrated his fifth goal of the season by pretending to fire gunshots into the Lens support and received a contestable yellow card as a result.
This was then followed up by an even more controversial second-yellow card when the former Napoli striker asked Rainville why he felt the need to book him. Lens midfielder Le Moigne then received the third red card of the match for a second booking after he appeared to push Cabaye while he was being marked by him, bringing the staggering tally up to three red cards in six minutes.
The result is only PSG’s second away win of the season, but you do get the feeling that they are in a more comfortable position to try to claw back Marseille who sit in top spot. Lens will be urgently hoping to win points as soon as possible, however the prospect of their two next matches away to Toulouse and table-topping Marseille will hardly give them much hope.
Marseille continue winning run
Images this week of Marcelo Bielsa sitting on a cup of coffee which was suspiciously positioned on top of his now trademark cooling box seat on the touch-line at the Vélodrome during Sunday afternoon’s game went viral this weekend, but on the pitch there was a lot more to please the Argentine coach.
His side won their eighth consecutive match against a Toulouse side that went into the match unbeaten in their four previous matches. A fluent and coherent Marseillais first-half in which Bielsa’s side scored twice was enough to give the league leaders another three points in front of a club record home crowd to remain seven points ahead of their rivals PSG. Toulouse’s loss saw them slump down to 9th in the table, but there were positive spells in the match, particularly the second-half, from which their coach Alain Casanova will take comfort.
Marseille broke the deadlock on 22 minutes when Dimitri Payet’s curling free-kick from the left-side of the midfield found Cameroon defender Nkoulou who headed the ball home convincingly passed Boucher. As the first-half developed, Imbula, who has looked an all-round more mature player this season, began to have a telling influence on the game as the 22-year-old began to command the game from midfield. Imbula played a pivotal role in the superb build-up play which saw Marseille grab a second goal.
OM’s high-intensity passing resulted in the ball eventually finding Gignac who scored with his weaker left-foot to net his tenth goal of the season so far on 38 minutes. The goal now means that Gignac has scored twice as many goals as Ibrahimovic this season.
Toulouse became more dangerous in the second-half, and there was a sense that if either Braithwaite or Ben Yedder managed to pull a goal back it would’ve made for a nervy end to the second period for the home side, however Marseille, and in particular Nkoulou, continued to defend solidly. It was by in large another successful Marseille performance, in another game in which they pleased their support by playing football their way.
Marseille are looking extremely comfortable in top position, a position which seems even more impressive when you contrast their glistening form this season with their nightmare season last year.
Lyon hit five against Montpellier
Fournier’s Olympique Lyonnais side continued their run as the best home team of the season so far with another impressive victory at the Stade de Gerland against Courbis’ Montpellier. OL thrashed their opposition with a 5-1 victory which saw them move up to 4th place and record 12 points out of a total 15 so far at home so far this season.
Montpellier, who have won only once away from home this season, now sit in 11th position, with the club’s main concern at the moment being the reconstruction work being done to their home stadium following two recent periods of flash flooding in the south of France.
Gourcuff opened the scoring for the home side on 36 minutes with a cool finish. Lyon’s pacey attacking game bore fruit once again when Jallet found Lacazette who played in the ever-exciting Nabil Fekir who chipped the ball over Jourdren to give les Gones a 2-0 lead to carry into half-time. Just after the restart, Gourcuff then scored a near carbon copy of his first at the other end of the park.
On 54 minutes, Tiéné scored a sublime free-kick from 20 yards to give the away side a glimmer of hope. However two late goals from Lacazette and Malbranque after swift Lyon moves gave the home side another two goals which brought the final scoreline to a resounding OL win.
This young Lyon side appear to be coming together to great effect. If they can improve their away form they will definitely be a team that will challenge for a top three podium position at the end of the season.