With just three games left, it really was crunch time this holiday weekend in Ligue 1 as teams stated their claim for the title, survival and European spots. With some surprising results, it could all go down to the wire.
Evian secured a 2-1 victory over struggling Corsican side Ajaccio. 21-year-old midfielder Benjamin Andre opened the scoring for the away side but Cedric Barbosa equalised immediately after.
Daniel Wass, on loan from Portuguese side Benfica, put Evian ahead in the second half before Carl Medjani’s sending off ended any chance of an Ajaccio comeback.
Lyon’s slim hopes of Champions League qualification were crushed in a 1-1 draw with third-from-bottom Brest. Yoann Gourcuff opened the scoring with a neat header in the first half, the highlight of a decent performance in what has been a disappointing spell in Lyon.
Lyon pressed but were unable to kill the game off. Brest then took full advantage, pulling level through defender Gregory Lorenzi.
Valenciennes hosted Paris Saint-Germain in what was a game full of goals but shocking defending. The home side were 2-0 up within ten minutes through Vincent Aboubakar and Remi Gomis though Nene soon pulled one back for PSG. The capital-city club pushed for the advantage before half time and drew level when former Barcelona left-back Maxwell hit the back of the net.
Blaise Matuidi ended a mad first half with a goal to ensure a 3-2 advantage for PSG heading into the break. Jeremy Menez put PSG further ahead on the hour mark but Valenciennes would not give up without a fight. Midfielder Renaud Cohade reduced the deficit late in the game but Valenciennes were unable to escape with a point.
Bordeaux soundly defeated struggling Auxerre 4-2 away from home. Bordeaux were 4-0 up by the early stages of the second half thanks to goals from Jaroslav Plasil, Ludovic Sane and a double from Yoann Gouffran. They did, however, ease off as the second half progressed.
This allowed former Wigan and Celtic winger Olivier Kapo to strike twice but, unfortunately for Auxerre, the result means they go back to the bottom of the table.
Lille threw their hat into the title race with a convincing 3-0 victory over Caen. Tulio de Melo started the scoring for Lille with a penalty midway through the first half before adding his second ten minutes later.
The home side ensured that the finish to the Ligue 1 season would be a tight one when Dimitri Payet added Lille’s third on the hour mark. This result moves them just two points from second-placed PSG.
Lorient and Dijon battled to a 0-0 draw. Lorient currently sit in 13th place in the Ligue 1 table though are far from safe yet.
Dijon, on the other hand, can still mathematically stay up but face two tough fixtures against Toulouse and Rennes. The safe money is on their relegation from Ligue 1 this season.
There was also a 0-0 draw between St Etienne and Marseille. The game itself had little talking points though the draw does mean that Marseille move back into the top half of the table, albeit in 10th place. St Etienne still dreaming of the Europa League next season and could be on course to achieve it.
Sochaux achieved a narrow but vitally important win over Nancy. Sebastien Roudet struck the game’s only goal to pull Sochaux out of the relegation zone and into 17th place.
Sochaux face two difficult matches in their hunt for survival. Even if they do survive the drop this season, a large number of their playing squad look set to leave the club this summer.
Toulouse and Nice played out a goalless draw as Toulouse slip down the table. Toulouse have had a good season in spite of what some perceive as negative football. The side would be disappointed if they failed to achieve European qualification after such a strong season defensively.
The final fixture of the weekend saw Rennes host Montpellier. Souleymane Camara made up for his penalty miss against Evian when he found the back of the net in the first half.22 year-old midfielder Remy Cabella doubled Montpellier’s advantage in the second half.
This win sees Montpellier move three points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table with just two games remaining. With the side playing Lille next week, the current champions could have a huge say in where the title ends up this season.
Evian 2-1 Ajaccio; Lyon 1-1 Brest; Valenciennes 3-4 PSG; Auxerre 2-4 Bordeaux; Lille 3-0 Caen; Lorient 0-0 Dijon; St Etienne 0-0 Marseille; Sochaux 1-0 Nancy; Toulouse 0-0 Nice; Rennes 0-2 Montpellier
Good week for fans: Even with a few goalless draws, it seems that it will be an exciting end to the season once again in France. Things look tight at both ends of the table, with only six points separating 12th from 19th and five points in the title race between Montpellier, PSG and Lille.
Bad week for Auxerre: Despite two goals from former Celtic winger Olivier Kapo, the side were unable to stop Bordeaux’s early onslaught which sees them slump to the bottom of the table once again. Relegation looms for the side who contested the Champions League just a few seasons ago.
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