Posts Tagged ‘Nenê’

Preview: Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain travel to the famous Estádio da Luz on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie with Portuguese champions Benfica. I have co-written a preview of the game for the PortuGOAL website, which can be read here.

La semaine en France: Week 23

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
One by one, the pack closed in and Lille could do nothing but watch. The fixture computer having scheduled their home game with Toulouse for Sunday night, the league leaders had no choice but to watch as first Marseille, then Lyon and then Rennes whittled away their lead. By the time Lille took to the field at Stadium Lille-Métropole, they were just two points clear.

The pressure was on, then, but Rudi Garcia’s side produced a quietly efficient performance to win 2-0. A badly deteriorating playing surface did not make life easy, but the visitors obligingly evened things up by giving the ball away in dangerous areas with a frequency that – in the first half at least – bordered on the suicidal. Gervinho scrambled home to put Lille 1-0 up in the 38th minute and teed up substitute Túlio de Melo for the second goal in injury time.

It meant that Lille ended the weekend with their five-point lead intact. Rennes are now second after an equally straightforward 2-0 defeat of Nice. Marseille moved up to third, a point behind Rennes, after André-Pierre Gignac’s impressive double saw them come from behind to win 2-1 at Sochaux. Lyon also had to overcome the concession of an early goal, weathering a first-half storm at Saint-Etienne to record a 4-1 victory that left Jean-Michel Aulas beaming.

Paris Saint-Germain were the only title pretenders who failed to win, a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Lens dropping them to fourth, level on points with OL. Bordeaux’s mini-revival came to an end, as Romain Hamouma’s last-minute header saw them fall 2-1 at home to Caen. There were also wins for Caen’s fellow strugglers Nancy and Monaco, who won 3-1 against Auxerre to leave the erstwhile Champions League participants in 17th place and without a win in 14 games across all competitions.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Arles-Avignon 0-0 Montpellier, Bordeaux 1-2 Caen, Monaco 3-1 Lorient, Nancy 3-1 Auxerre, PSG 0-0 Lens, Sochaux 1-2 Marseille, Saint-Etienne 1-4 Lyon; Sunday: Rennes 2-0 Nice, Valenciennes 3-0 Brest, Lille 2-0 Toulouse

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La semaine en France: Weeks 18 and 19

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
Fittingly, after a first half to the season in which several teams enjoyed time at the top of the table without ever being able to pull clear, not one of the sides in the top half of Ligue 1 signed off for the winter break with a victory.

Lille’s penultimate pre-Christmas game against Nancy last Sunday fell victim to the snow but they managed to cling on to top spot by virtue of a 1-1 draw at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday. Rudi Garcia’s side, the division’s top scorers with 33 goals from 18 matches, lead by a point from Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Lyon but have a game in hand on all their rivals. Marseille are three points off the pace in fifth, above Saint-Etienne on goal difference.

An 88th-minute equaliser by Daniel Niculae had seen Monaco snatch a 2-2 draw from their trip to PSG last weekend, and Paris looked heavy legged in a 2-0 defeat at Nancy on Wednesday – only their second defeat in 23 matches. Rennes’ goalscoring problems continued as they went down 1-0 at third-bottom Caen, while Lyon recorded a 1-1 draw against Auxerre to extend their unbeaten run to 12 league games.

Marseille, who drew 1-1 at home to Lyon in last Sunday’s ‘Olympico‘, once again looked worryingly blunt going forward in a 0-0 draw at Brest, which was their fifth game without a win. New signing Rod Fanni went off injured, Charles Kaboré was sent off and André-Pierre Gignac was substituted to ironic jeers in the 84th minute after another fruitless and frustrating night in front of goal.

Valenciennes (16th) and Monaco (17th) boosted their bids to avoid relegation with victories over Toulouse and Sochaux respectively, but a stoppage-time equaliser by Yoan Gouffran saw second-bottom Lens denied victory at Bordeaux (2-2), and Arles-Avignon are now 11 points from safety following a 0-0 draw with Nice.

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La semaine en France: Week 17

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
Lyon’s trip to Marseille this Sunday has the potential to be the defining game of the season’s first half, and although both sides have been undermined by injuries and suspensions, their recent form contrasts starkly.

Fifth-placed Marseille, who drew 1-1 at Auxerre last Sunday, are now without a win in three league games. Stéphane Mbia was harshly sent off at Auxerre for a foul on Julien Quercia that yielded a penalty – and an equaliser – despite occurring outside the box. He joins César Azpilicueta (knee ligament injury) and Souleymane Diawara (suspended) on the sidelines, but Rod Fanni arrived from Rennes on Thursday to plug at least one of the gaps in the back four.

Cris, Pape Diakhaté and Jérémy Toulalan have been ruled out for Lyon, while Anthony Réveillère is a doubt with a calf injury, but Claude Puel’s side are unbeaten in 10 league games and climbed to third with a 2-0 win at home to Toulouse. Lisandro López, thriving in a left-flank role, broke the deadlock early on and Bafétimbi Gomis completed the scoring from Kim Kallstrom’s through-ball 10 minutes before the break.

Lille required a header in the third minute of injury time from substitute striker Túlio De Melo to snatch a 1-0 win at Arles-Avignon that kept them top. Paris Saint-Germain trail them by a point after the latest installment of The Nenê Show (see below) concluded with a 2-1 victory at Valenciennes.

A 0-0 snorefest at Bordeaux left Rennes in fourth place, but Saint-Etienne moved up to seventh by ending a nine-game winless streak with a 2-0 defeat of imperilled Monaco. Montpellier’s goalless draw at Brest featured a horrendous elbow by Emir Spahić on Nolan Roux that has landed the Bosnian centre-back – and self-proclaimed Arsenal target – a date with the league’s disciplinary committee.

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La semaine en France: Week 16

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
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.

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La semaine en France: Week 15

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
Was this the week that Marseille’s title defence began in earnest? A 4-0 win at home to Montpellier last Saturday took the champions back to the summit, above Lille on goal difference, and a goalless draw in the re-arranged game against Rennes on Wednesday sent them a point clear. Steve Mandanda saved an early penalty by Rennes’ Jirès Kembo Ekoko to prevent OM falling behind, with Lucho González squandering a superb chance late in the game when he side-footed wide from 12 yards.

Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain were both aiming for top spot when they met on Sunday, but they had to settle for a point apiece after a thrilling 2-2 draw. Aly Cissokho broke the deadlock with his first Ligue 1 goal for Lyon but was later sent off after his misplaced breath prompted Nenê to tumble dramatically in the Lyon box. Guillaume Hoarau’s penalty put PSG 2-1 up with seven minutes to play, Nenê having equalised just after the hour with a rare header, but a dreadful kick by visiting goalkeeper Apoula Edel allowed Bafétimbi Gomis to lash in an 87th-minute equaliser.

The point took Paris to within a point of second-placed Lille – who drew 1-1 at Bordeaux – and ahead of Montpellier on goal difference. Lyon remained eighth, level on points with Bordeaux, and go into the weekend three points off top spot. Brest, meanwhile, snapped a three-game winless streak to beat Lens 4-1 on Tuesday and are now back in the top three.

Caen look in a lot of bother after a 3-0 defeat at home to Sochaux left them third from bottom and without a win in nine games. “There’s lots of fear: the players look at each other in the eyes but there’s no-one who shouts louder than the others,” said Caen coach Franck Dumas. “They’re good guys, but not for Ligue 1.”

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La semaine en France: Week 13

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
Great play has been made of the French top flight’s competitiveness since Lyon’s dominance came to an end in 2008, but that competitiveness reached slightly preposterous proportions in Week 13, with just four points now separating the top 12 clubs.

Brest remain top, by a point, after Nolan Roux’s first-half equaliser earned Alex Dupont’s side a 1-1 draw at home to Sochaux. Lille flew up the standings to second as Moussa Sow’s first career hat-trick set them up for a 5-2 shellacking of Caen, while Montpellier are behind Les Dogues on goal difference after winning 1-0 at home to Toulouse.

Paris Saint-Germain are fourth, a point back, thanks to Nenê’s last-minute equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Lorient. Rennes dropped to fifth, behind Paris on goal difference, after Julien Quercia’s 86th-minute winner consigned the Brittany outfit to defeat at in-form Auxerre.

Marseille disappointed again in a 1-1 draw at home to Lens, but although they slipped to sixth, they still have a game in hand. Lyon weren’t much better at home to Nice on Sunday night, but Jeremy Pied’s first-half volley was enough to secure a 1-0 victory that moved them to within just three points of Brest in eighth place.

Sandwiched between OM and OL are Bordeaux, after a 2-1 win at home to Nancy decided by the talking point of the weekend. With the score 1-1 in the 90th minute, Jaroslav Plašil slung a free-kick into the Nancy box and although Wendel used his hand to divert the ball towards goal and succeeded only in pushing it against the post, the linesman flagged for a goal and referee Bartolomeu Varela – to the horror of the Nancy players – agreed with him. The result dropped Nancy to second-bottom, but – incredibly – they are as close to leaders Brest (eight points) as they are to rock-bottom Arles-Avignon.

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La semaine en France: Week 12

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
For the first time in many years, Sunday night’s ‘clasico’ between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille actually felt like an important game in its own right, as PSG’s 2-1 victory at the Parc des Princes took them above their hated rivals to third in the table.

Delays meant the Marseille team coach did not arrive at the stadium until an hour before kick-off and it appeared to take their players around 20 minutes to realise the game had actually started, with Mevlüt Erding and Guillaume Hoarau putting the hosts two goals to the good before Marseille responded through Lucho González.

Brest remain top, despite conceding their first goals in nine matches as they went down 3-1 at Lille. Moussa Sow’s close-range header brought Brest’s extraordinary clean sheet streak to an end after 832 minutes, but a magnificent volley by Romain Poyet (see below) provided some consolation for the promoted side.

Second-placed Rennes are now a point behind Brest – albeit with a game in hand against Marseille still to come on December 1 – following an engaging 1-1 draw at home to Lyon. Hugo Lloris had already been called into action three times before a well-taken strike by Jirès Kembo Ekoko put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute, but Rennes could not sustain their blistering early momentum and a deflected second-half free-kick by Michel Bastos earned OL a share of the spoils.

A Kévin Gameiro brace gave Lorient a 2-1 win at Saint-Etienne (who are now without a win in six games), which sent Les Merlus up to ninth. In the relegation zone, Lens and Monaco both moved to within a point of safety after beating Montpellier (2-0) and Nancy (0-4) respectively. Meanwhile, Arles-Avignon claimed their first success of the campaign, at the 12th attempt, with a 3-2 win at home to floundering Caen.

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Report: Nenê shines as PSG check Marseille momentum

“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain climbed to third in Ligue 1 and prevented champions Marseille from going top with a 2-1 win over their arch-rivals at Parc des Princes on Saturday.”

Read my AFP match report here.

La semaine en France: Week 10

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
Setbacks for all of their major rivals allowed Marseille to move into second place last weekend and victory at home to leaders Rennes on Saturday night is guaranteed to take the defending champions back to the top of the pile for the first time since the end of 2009-10.

OM have yet to set anyone’s pulse racing this season, but in their 3-1 win at Lille they showed some of the pragmatism and composure that took them to their first league title in 18 years last term. On the back foot throughout the first half, they fell behind to a Yohan Cabaye effort in the 26th minute and would have been out of contention by half-time had it not been for a string of excellent stops from Steve Mandanda. Loïc Rémy scored twice in the second half, either side of a deflected strike by Lucho González, to extend Marseille’s run without defeat to eight games.

Rennes misfired once again in the continued absence through injury of striker Victor Hugo Montaño, losing 1-0 at home to Montpellier to cede the league’s last unbeaten record. Saint-Etienne slipped a place to third after Dimitri Payet ballooned a last-minute penalty over the crossbar in a 1-1 draw at home to Caen. Promoted Brest are now level on points with Marseille and Les Verts in fourth, having registered their fourth straight away win with a 2-0 victory at Bordeaux.

Paris Saint-Germain’s defensive frailties unexpectedly returned as they lost 3-2 at home to Auxerre, despite Nenê’s sweet curler having put them ahead after just 50 seconds, while Lyon’s recent momentum petered out in mystifyingly meek fashion in a 1-1 draw at Arles-Avignon.

Marseille’s fans were celebrating, meanwhile, after a court in the city suspended the Professional Football League’s (LFP) decision to ban away fans from this season’s two games between OM and PSG.

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