La semaine en France: Week 25

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.

Ligue 1
The compressing and expanding accordion that is the Ligue 1 title race was squeezed together once again in Week 25, with just four points now separating the top five after Lille’s 1-1 draw at home to Lyon.

Rennes’ fine form continued with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Lens, in which Razak Boukari netted a cracking goal against his former club. It was Rennes’ fourth straight league win and means that Frédéric Antonetti’s men trail the leaders by goal difference alone. Marseille are a point behind, in third place, after an André Ayew double saw them to a 2-1 win at Nancy.

Paris Saint-Germain trail OM by a point following a 2-1 victory at home to Toulouse that came despite a performance from centre-back Sylvain Armand befitting of its own one-man highlights reel. His spectacularly mistimed challenge on Moussa Sissoko gifted the visitors a 17th-minute penalty that Paulo Machado missed before Armand volleyed PSG into the lead. Adrián Gunino’s own goal made it 2-0 but Armand kept things interesting by ducking beneath a high ball and allowing Franck Tabanou to pull one back for TFC.

Lille’s draw with Lyon was marred once again by the hosts’ wretched playing surface but the pitch was finally re-laid on Thursday and will be completely revamped in the summer. Jean Tigana offered to quit as Bordeaux coach but then saw his side beat Auxerre 3-0 and was subsequently persuaded to stay by president Jean-Louis Triaud and majority shareholder Nicolas de Tavernost.

Auxerre have now gone 16 games without a win and are only a point above the drop zone. Monaco looked set to leapfrog them but threw away a 2-0 goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Caen. Meanwhile, Nice’s 2-0 win at Saint-Etienne, featuring an extraordinary goal from Kafoumba Coulibaly (see below), lifted them four points away from the relegation places.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Arles-Avignon 1-1 Brest, Monaco 2-2 Caen, Rennes 2-0 Lens, Saint-Etienne 0-2 Nice, Sochaux 0-0 Montpellier, Valenciennes 0-0 Lorient, Bordeaux 3-0 Auxerre; Saturday: Nancy 1-2 Marseille, PSG 2-1 Toulouse, Lille 1-1 Lyon

Ligue 1 table

Goal of the week: Kafoumba Coulibaly (Saint-Etienne 0-2 Nice):

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Player of the week: André Ayew (Marseille)
Having earned special praise from Sir Alex Ferguson for his defensive contribution in Marseille’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United in the Champions League, Ayew was OM’s match-winner with two goals in the 2-1 win at Nancy. Having cancelled out Julien Feret’s  34th-minute opener with a close-range volley on the brink of half-time, the Ghana international claimed the winning goal in the 87th minute when he followed up to slam the ball home from a narrow angle after his low cross had been parried by Damien Gregorini. André-Pierre Gignac’s absence has given Ayew an extended run in the team on the left wing but he has proved himself equally adept in a left-sided midfield role this season and has also featured on the right. A willing and insistent source of danger against Nancy, his brace took his goal tally to six in Ligue 1 this season.

Quote of the week
“It’s for someone who boxed me in all [last] season. He knows who he is. He made me a martyr. And there you go, I responded on the pitch and today I can say that I don’t give a fuck about anyone. I’ve scored a goal against Monaco. I deserved a place at Monaco last year.”
– On-loan Caen winger Yohan Mollo takes a thinly veiled swipe at former Monaco coach Guy Lacombe after netting the equaliser in the 2-2 draw at his parent club

Stat of the week (courtesy of OptaJean)
Lyon completed just 54.6 percent of their passes against Lille, the worst passing accuracy statistics recorded by any team in a Ligue 1 game this season.

Top goalscorers
17: Moussa Sow (Lille)
15: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient)
13: Nenê (PSG)
12: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen)
11: Gervinho (Lille)
10: Brown Ideye (Sochaux), Modibo Maïga (Sochaux),  Anthony Modeste (Bordeaux), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)
9: Bafétimbi Gomis (Lyon), Park Chu-Young (Monaco)
8: Lisandro López (Lyon), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
7: Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Victor Hugo Montaño (Rennes), Loïc Rémy (Marseille)

Top assists
11: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
8: Anthony Mounier (Nice), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
7: Gervinho (Lille)
6: Morgan Amalfitano (Lorient), Ludovic Giuly (PSG), Bruno Grougi (Brest), Eden Hazard (Lille), Jérôme Leroy (Rennes)

Week 26 fixtures
Saturday: Caen v Saint-Etienne, Lorient v Nancy, Montpellier v Rennes, Nice v Lens, Toulouse v Sochaux, Valenciennes v Monaco, Auxerre v PSG; Sunday: Brest v Bordeaux, Lyon v Arles-Avignon, Marseille v Lille

Coupe de France
Fifth-tier Chambéry’s cup run finally came to an end in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, when the Championnat de France amateur 2 side from the Savoie region went down 3-0 to Ligue 2 Angers in Grenoble. Angers are now the only non-Ligue 1 side in with a chance of reaching the final after Nice, Lille and holders PSG came through their last-eight assignments.

All three top-flight sides required extra time to reach the dernier carré. A brace from Gabonese forward Eric Mouloungui allowed Nice to edge two-time European Cup runners-up Reims 3-2 on Tuesday. Lille beat Lorient 5-3 on penalties following a 0-0 draw on their bog of a pitch on Wednesday, while Paris required extra-time goals from teenagers Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (17) and Neeskens Kebano (18) to see off Le Mans 2-0 at Parc des Princes.

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