A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.
Just as Marseille looked to be gathering momentum, a setback arrived in the form of a 1-0 defeat at Nice. Little matter that OM dominated the game at the home of their Mediterranean near neighbours. They barely created a chance of note and were punished in the second minute of injury time when former Reading man Emerse Faé side-footed home unmarked from Anthony Mounier’s cut-back.
Defeat saw Marseille drop to fourth, a point behind Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain and two shy of leaders Lille, who rompted to the top of the table – and the scoring charts – with a scarcely credible 6-3 annihiliation of Lorient. The game, postponed from Saturday to Sunday due to snow, was chiefly remarkable for a perfect hat-trick from in-form Moussa Sow (see below), but Kévin Gameiro was unfortunate to finish on the losing side after claiming a smartly taken brace.
Rennes won 1-0 at home to Monaco on Saturday and PSG joined them on 27 points a day later by beating Brest 3-1. Nenê, again, supplied the breakthrough, with Mathieu Bodmer and Ludovic Giuly re-establishing the hosts’ lead after Nolan Roux had equalised. Bodmer was operating in a new role as the central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, but PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré played down the significance of the tactical shift. “If we win, it’s because it’s the right formula. But I prefer 4-4-2.”
Lyon are fifth, level on points with Marseille, thanks to an injury-time winner from Lisandro López – his second goal of the game – in a 2-1 win at Montpellier. Bordeaux, eighth, also needed a late goal to salvage a point at Saint-Etienne, with Fernando’s 89th-minute header stretching Les Verts‘ winless streak to nine matches. Meanwhile, Sochaux’s 2-1 win at home to Valenciennes took them up to seventh.
Goal of the week: Nolan Roux (PSG 3-1 Brest):
Player of the week: Moussa Sow (Lille, pictured)
Sow was far from prolific during his time at Rennes – 12 goals in 82 league games – but his hat-trick against Lorient was his second of the season and he is currently the hottest striker in the division. Sunday’s triple had a particularly pleasing symmetry to it. His first, in the 11st minute, was a left-foot, first-time shot into the bottom-left corner from Yohan Cabaye’s through-ball. He headed home Florent Balmont’s right-wing cross to put Lille 3-2 up early in the first half before completing his hat-trick in the 82nd minute by bending the ball into the top-left corner from the edge of the box with his right foot. He has now scored 13 goals this season – more than in his entire Rennes career.
Quote of the week
“I left him on until the end so that he wouldn’t make a face afterwards.”
– Claude Puel explains why Lisandro remained on the pitch until the end of Lyon’s win at Montpellier, suggesting that he is perhaps growing weary of the Argentine’s well-publicised strops
Stat of the week (courtesy of OptaJean)
Moussa Sow is the first player to score two hat-tricks in a single Ligue 1 season since Wendel for Bordeaux in 2007-08.
13: Moussa Sow (Lille)
10: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen)
9: Nenê (PSG)
8: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
7: Gervinho (Lille), Brown Ideye (Sochaux), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)
6: Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Lisandro López (Lyon), Modibo Maïga (Sochaux), Anthony Modeste (Bordeaux)
7: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
6: Anthony Mounier (Nice)
5: Ludovic Giuly (PSG), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
4: Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Roy Contout (Auxerre), Marco Estrada (Montpellier), Benjamin Gavanon (Nancy), Gervinho (Lille), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Bruno Grougi (Brest), Benoît Pedretti (Auxerre)
Week 17 fixtures
Saturday: Brest v Montpellier, Caen v Nice, Lorient v Lens, Nancy v Sochaux, Valenciennes v PSG, Arles-Avignon v Lille, Auxerre v Marseille; Sunday: Lyon v Toulouse, Monaco v Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux v Rennes
Despite Souleymane Diawara’s best efforts to give Chelsea a penalty at every available opportunity, Marseille signed off the Champions League group phase with a 1-0 win at home to the English champions on Wednesday. Brandão’s 81st-minute tap-in earned OM the points their performance merited and made sure that Didier Drogba’s much-anticipated return to Stade Vélodrome ended in defeat.
Lyon drew 2-2 at home to Hapoel Tel Aviv – who scored the goal of the competition so far – but lost out to Schalke in the battle for top spot in Group B. Having both qualified from their groups in second place, OM and OL will do well to avoid fiendish last-16 opposition in next Friday’s draw. Auxerre had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of Karim Benzema’s best performance to date in a Real Madrid shirt, as he notched a hat-trick of increasing complexity in a 4-0 victory at the Bernabéu.