Ibra and Falcao ensure big one lives up to billing
By D. Crossan
Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain fill the top two spots in Ligue 1 after an enthralling 1-1 draw between the duo at the Parc des Princes. Star strikers Radamel Falcao and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were both on the scoresheet. Week 6 review...
Ibrahimovic drew first blood, using his taekwondo-honed technique to gain elevation and convert a cross from his great mate Maxwell with his studs. Last season's top scorer in Ligue 1 had PSG ahead in the fifth minute in a match which Laurent Blanc's men knew if they won they'd leapfrog Ligue 2 champions Monaco to go top of the division for the first time, but should they lose they'd slip to an inconceivable five points behind the Ligue 2 club.
The hosts suffered a blow when captain Thiago Silva was forced off with a left hamstring injury which Blanc says will keep the classy Brazilian centre-half out for "a while". Four minutes after Thiago Silva's exit Monaco equalised through Colombian hotshot Falcao, the striker bravely diving to the floor to meet João Moutinho's cross from the left. Ace goal-getters don't mind how they go in and a finish with the shoulder provided the summer signing from Atletico Madrid with as much glee as any spectacular strike would have done. Falcao moved level with club-mate Emmanuel Rivière and Evian's Kévin Bérigaud at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring chart with five goals.
PSG looked the more threatening team thereafter but had trouble getting their efforts on target. Uruguayan international forward Edinson Cavani had, one sublime first-half Ibrahimovic backheel aside, been largely devoid of service until stoppage time when the 64 million euro signing from Napoli had a shot blocked by sub Andrea Raggi and then headed wide as a high-quality encounter finished with honours even.
Ibrahimovic: "We're a bit disappointed"
The two pre-season favourites are the only unbeaten clubs in Ligue 1 with Monaco, on 14 points, two points clear of PSG. Ibrahimovic's next task sees him go to Valenciennes on Wednesday; to the Stade du Hainaut where he plundered his first Ligue 1 hat-trick in December last year. After the Monaco game, Ibrahimovic said: "We're a bit disappointed because we had a lot of chances to score. We scored the first goal but then made a mistake and Monaco profited from that. We're under more pressure this season and everybody wants to beat us. My understanding with Cavani? It's coming, it's coming. For my goal I had an instinctive reaction and ran into the near post. It was my first touch of the game and it went in."
None of top four win
None of the top four won in Week 6. Saint-Etienne scored first at home to hitherto winless Toulouse through Romain Hamouma, only for Danish international forward Martin Braithwaite to cancel it out and Issiaga Sylla to pop up with a winner that lifted Toulouse out of the bottom three. Saint-Etienne are level with PSG on 12 points.
Marseille were held 0-0 at Bastia and are a point further back, alongside Nice who celebrated the inaugural match at the Allianz Riviera with a 4-0 thrashing of Valenciennes, who lost their fifth straight Ligue 1 game. Argentinian Dario Cvitanich scored the historic first goal at the 35,000 capacity stadium which will be one of the host venues for Euro 2016. Rennes also have 11 points as Foued Kadir celebrated his home debut after joining from Marseille with a double against Ajaccio in a 2-0 win.
Reintegrated Gomis and Briand net for OL
Lyon and Lille are next on ten points as they were also members of the chasing pack to collect a maximum haul. OL enjoyed their first win in over a month in all competitions, recovering from Jordan Veretout putting Nantes ahead at the Stade de Gerland to win 3-1. The reintegrated Bafétimbi Gomis and Jimmy Briand both scored their first goals of the season. Nolan Roux scored twice for Lille at bottom club Sochaux - along with Ajaccio the only club yet to taste victory - to mark his first start since February.
Lorient and Bordeaux played out an error-strewn 3-3 draw in Brittany, Guingamp secured their first away point of the season in a 1-1 at Reims and Evian recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Montpellier.