There was just one postponement in Ligue 1 this week as the argument in favour of undersoil heating in French stadiums was once again brought to the fore.
Evian’s fixture with Marseille was actually postponed midweek in order to avoid any fan backlash as was witnessed with last week’s fixture list.
Auxerre and Lorient kicked things off this week in Ligue 1. 21 year-old defender Willy Boly had Auxerre in front relatively early in the first half.
Lorient’s fightback was immediately put on the back burner as Fabien Audard was shown a red card. Lorient did, however, manage to equalise when a stoppage-time strike from Innocent Emeghara secured a point.
Lyon’s title hopes were dealt a blow as they were defeated 2-1 at home against struggling Caen. Romain Hamouma opened the scoring for Caen early in the match before Livio Nabab doubled the advantage in the second half.
A Lisandro López penalty pulled one back for Lyon but the title-chasers were unable to mount an effective comeback as Caen walked away with a highly valuable three points.
On the other hand, Montpellier ensured they stay firmly in the title race with a 3-0 victory over Corsican side Ajaccio. With the first half goalless, Montpellier came out fighting and gained the advantage when Younes Belhanda struck from the penalty spot.
Rémy Cabella added a second before Olivier Giroud’s 16th goal of the season cemented the emphatic victory. Montpellier are now just one point away from league-leaders PSG whilst Ajaccio slip closer to the relegation zone once again.
Just as things looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw between Valenciennes and Nancy, ex-Marseille striker Mamadou Samassa’s last-minute strike ensured that Valenciennes stole all three points as they climb closer to the top half of the table.
Rennes were 1-0 winners over Sochaux as former Newcastle United target Mevlut Erding scored his first goal for his new club. This was an important victory for Rennes as they stay within touching distance of the title race.
Sochaux, however, need to earn points from somewhere as they are currently the league’s basement club and not performing well at all.
Brest and Dijon battled to a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s late kick-off. Gael Kakuta, on loan to Dijon from Chelsea, put the visitors in front midway through the second half before Brest’s on-loan striker Issam Jemaa was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Just as Brest looked doomed, Argentine defender Santiago Gentiletti scored a 90th minute equaliser to earn a point.
Sunday’s fixtures began with a bang as Bordeaux defeated Lille 5-4 away from home. Nicolas Maurice-Belay opened the scoring for the away side within two minutes as his shot was deflected into the net by Mathieu Debuchy.
Former Newcastle defender David Rozehnal equalised not long after but Ludovic Obraniak struck against his former club in order to give Bordeaux the lead once again.
Things went from bad to worse for Lille as Maurice-Belay struck his second before Yoann Gouffran struck his seventh goal of the season to make it 4-2 to Bordeaux.
A superb free-kick from Eden Hazard was added to by a Mathieu Debuchy strike to ensure Lille were at least back in with a chance of winning three points.
They pulled level when newly-signed striker Nolan Roux hit the back of the net in the 90th minute. Lady luck shone on Bordeaux, however, as Obraniak’s second goal against his former club saw all three points head to Bordeaux.
Title-favourites PSG were unable to defeat Nice as both sides fought to a 0-0 draw. The draw sees PSG’s three-point cushion diminish to just one point with Montpellier breathing down their neck.
Following the weekend’s results, there is now an 11-point gap between PSG and Lille, Lyon and Rennes. Montpellier’s startling form will ensure an interesting title race to say the least.
The final match of the weekend saw Toulouse host St Etienne. The away side waited until the second half to take the lead when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, recently returned from African Cup of Nations duty with Gabon, scored with a stunning strike. This proved to be the only goal of the game and sees St Etienne leapfrog Toulouse into seventh place.
Results: Auxerre 1-1 Lorient; Evian P-P Marseille; Lyon 1-2 Caen; Montpellier 3-0 Ajaccio; Valenciennes 1-0 Nancy; Rennes 1-0 Sochaux; Brest 1-1 Dijon; Lille 4-5 Bordeaux; Nice 0-0 PSG; Toulouse 0-1 St Etienne
Good week for Montpellier: Given results elsewhere, their victory was important in that it reduced the gap at the top of the table and kept the chasing pack at bay.
Bad week for the title-chasers: Lyon lost to Caen for the second time this season whilst Lille were unable to avoid defeat against Bordeaux. This has opened up the gap between themselves and the two sides at the top of the table – PSG and Montpellier.
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