The Ligue 1 fixtures in France this week were spread out in order to facilitate coverage of the Coupe de la Ligue final on Saturday, in which Marseille defeated Lyon 1-0 in added time.
The league matches features some big results as teams scramble for points with just six games remaining.
Sunday’s matches started with Lille thrashing Ajaccio 4-1. An own goal from Ajaccio’s veteran defender Yann Poulard started things off before Joe Cole added Lille’s second with a fine finish before half-time.
Lille’s rout continued in the second half when 20 year-old Gianni Bruno struck his first goal for the club. A penalty from Eden Hazard just before the 90-minute mark made it 4-0 to Lille but Frederic Sammaritano ensured a consolation goal with his strike in added time.
Lorient were surprise winners over table-topping Montpellier. Lorient were ahead in the second half when Monepellier’s Henri Bedimo scored an own goal.
Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, found the back of the net ten minutes later to double the advantage. Olivier Giroud pulled one back immediately after but was unable to encourage a complete comeback from his side as they went down 2-1.
Nancy and Bordeaux battled to a 2-2 draw. Bordeaux’s top goalscorer Yoann Gouffran had his side ahead in under 20 minutes, which gave the away side the lead going into half time. Nancy, however, fought back early in the second half when Bakaye Traoré, who is out of contract this summer, pulled Nancy level.
Centre-back Sebastien Puygrenier put Nancy ahead midway through the second half. Just as Nancy looked to have wrapped up three points, Bordeaux were awarded a penalty in added time, a chance which was duly converted by left-back Benoit Trémoulinas.
St Etienne were 2-1 winners over Brest. Former Leeds United forward Max Gradel put the home side in front with a penalty in the second half. Issam Jemaa pulled Brest level but were powerless to stop Bakary Sako from giving St Etienne the victory. Brest are flirting dangerously with relegation.
Even though they are 16th, they are level on points with the side in 19th, showing just how close the relegation battle is becoming this season.
Sochaux ensured a vital victory over Dijon. Modibo Maiga scored the only goal of the game in the second half to see Sochaux grab the points they need in their continued fight against relegation.
Valenciennes were thrashed 3-0 at home by Evian. All three goals were scored in the first half as chances were converted by Saber Khelifa and Kevin Berigaud before Yannick Sagbo found the net from the penalty spot. The win sees Evian salmon leap into the top half whilst Valenciennes linger in mid table.
Sunday’s final match saw basement club Auxerre surprise Paris Saint-Germain as they managed a 1-1 draw. PSG looked fairly comfortable when Nene put them ahead midway through the first half.
Auxerre, however, refused to concede and continued to move forwards in order to push for an equaliser. This was achieved when Anthony Le Tallec struck in the 86th minute.
Title-chasing PSG remain in second place but have closed the gap on leaders Montpellier to just two points.
Rennes defeated Nice 3-1 in the Monday-night fixture. Goals from Julien Feret and young midfielder Tongo Doumbia had the home side ahead before the break.
Francois Clerc pulled a goal back for Nice as they went on to look for an equaliser but Rennes extended their lead and sealed the victory when Jonathan Pitroipa struck late in the game.
Two fixtures were played on Wednesday and featured both Coupe de la Ligue finalists. Cup winners Marseille hosted Caen in a 1-1 draw.
Caen surprisingly took the lead after 12 minutes when 21-year-old midfielder Frederic Bulot’s shot hit the back of the net. Loic Rémy ensured Marseille were level by half-time by converting his opportunity from the penalty spot. Neither side was able to seal all three points in the end.
Lyon waved goodbye to their Champions League aspirations as they were soundly defeated away at Toulouse.
Toulouse’s home form this season has been excellent and the side have conceded the least amount of goals over the season as a whole with 20 year-old goalkeeper Ali Ahamada emerging as a real talent between the sticks as the club’s number one choice.
Pantxi Sirieix had the home side ahead in under ten minutes with a fine finish. Former St Etienne forward Emmanuel Riviere added Toulouse’s second not long after. With Lyon looking hopeless all over the pitch, Toulouse eventually cemented their superiority with a third goal in added time through Umut Bulut.
Lille 4-1 Ajaccio; Lorient 2-1 Montpellier; Nancy 2-2 Bordeaux; St Etienne 2-1 Brest; Sochaux 1-0 Dijon; Valenciennes 0-3 Evian; Auxerre 1-1 PSG; Rennes 3-1 Nice; Marseille 1-1 Caen; Toulouse 3–0 Lyon
Good week – Fans: The fans look to be the real winners once again as the league looks to be reaching an exciting point with races for the title, European spaces and relegation all looking no closer to conclusion. It is likely these will go down to the wire.
Bad week – Lyon: Not only did Marseille end their run of 12 matches without a win against Lyon this week, it was in a cup final. This was then made worse as Toulouse effectively ended Lyon’s hopes of Champions League qualification.
Jason Milligan is part of the French Football Weekly team. You can follow him on Twitter @J_746
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