Matchday 1 - Saturday Review
Caen, Bordeaux, Nancy and Valenciennes all register wins on the first day of the 2007/08 Ligue 1 season with Monaco, PSG and Lille all held at home.
Saturday, August 4
Feindouno 47 (pen)
Saint-Etienne were keen to start the 2007/08 season in impressive form and after only two minutes the new Monaco captain, Flavio Roma, was called into action batting away a Loic Perrin header for a corner. Sixty seconds later and it was Dmitri Payet's turn to show off his considerable skills, the former Nantes player sending an effort just wide of Roma's post.
Payet was at the fore again mid-way through the half with an excellent turn and shot which Roma did well to save. Monaco, beginning to come into the game more saw Jéremy Menez hit a shot off the post before they stunned ASSE by taking the lead, Frédéric Piquionne, the former Saint-Etienne forward, glancing a header past a despairing Jéremie Janot.
Frédéric Piquionne scored Monaco's first goal of the new Ligue 1 season
The lead didn't last long however as les Verts, helped by the break, came storming back just two minutes into the second-half. A Pascal Feindouno penalty for a foul on Christophe Landrin handed the visitors the equalizer. With the match swinging from end to end, Janot had to save from Menez and Roma from Payet in an exciting finale. Neither team though managed to break the deadlock as the full-time whistle came and went with the draw a deserved result for both sides.
Audel 6, 29 and 61
Johan Audel was the stunning hero of Ligue 1's opening day when he blasted a hat-trick to give Valenciennes a fully-deserved 3-1 win over Toulouse.
The 23-year-old hit man struck in the sixth, 29th and 61st minutes as Valenciennes - who finished 17th last season - overran a Toulouse team who finished 2006-07 in third place to claim a Champions League place.
What an unforgettable night for Audel, a summer signing from Lille, who got the call-up only because Gregory Pujol, another Valenciennes new boy, was suspended for this match. Audel has raced to the top of the scoring charts, a stark contrast to 2006-07 when he managed just one goal in four appearances for Lille.
Celebrating scoring his third goal, Johan Audel
He latched on to a long ball from Carlos Sanchez, another summer signing, to open the scoring and netted a clinical second when he drove the ball past Toulouse goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez following neat work from Rudy Mater and Yacine Bezzaz.
Toulouse had got a foothold in the game with an equaliser from Nicolas Dieuze but the visitors suffered a huge blow when Johan Elmander limped off in the 25th minute. Andre-Pierre Gignac came on to make his Toulouse debut as Elmander's replacement but the service to the striker was poor all night.
Valenciennes continued to press forward in the second-half and Audel completed his hat-trick when he brilliantly met a superb Mater cross to coolly finish at the near post. Audel may not end the season as Ligue 1's top scorer but he certainly got his 2007/08 off to a flying start.
Caen got their first three points of the 2007/08 Ligue 1 season with a deserved win over Nice at the Stade Michel d'Ornano thanks to a late goal from Lilian Compan.
In a first-half dominated by Caen, the star of the show was Nice 'keeper Hugo Lloris who foiled a Issam Jemaa attempt in the first quarter hour and was once more on hand to excellently deny the Tunisian striker after 38 minutes.
Caen's Lilian Compan
Come the second-half, Caen continued their control of the game and could have gone ahead four minutes in when a Grégory Proment free-kick ricocheted off a Nice defender and into the path of the ever-present Jemaa who this time sent his powerful shot over the bar.
Nice's first real attempt on goal came in the 52nd minute when new signing Habib Bamogo, served by the Brazilian Ederson, blasted an effort narrowly over. Nevertheless, Caen rallied and came up with a goal that provided the first win of the weekend for a promoted team. With nine minutes left, Yoann Gouffran centred perfectly for Compan who shot high past an unlucky Lloris.
Fortune 38, Hadji 42
Nancy produced one of the shocks of the night courtesy of two first-half goals that earned them a fully-deserved 2-0 win over Rennes.
This triumph was all the more remarkable because the visitors managed just one away win all last season, and that only came in April when they scraped a 1-0 victory over a Lille side struggling at the time.
Pablo Correa's boys have clearly got over their travel sickness with this impressive victory over a Rennes side who finished fourth last season. The hosts dominated the early exchanges but their star France Under-21 striker Jimmy Briand was guilty of a host of misses.
Youssouf Hadji in full flight for Nancy
Rennes paid the price for their profligacy when Nancy took the lead. When the goal came it was a delightful move as giant striker Marc-Antoine Fortune latched on to a Youssouf Hadji pass and finished clinically past Rennes keeper Simon Pouplin. Four minutes later it got worse for Rennes Fortune returned the favour, supplying the on-running Hadji who held off centre-half Peter Hansson's challenge and doubled Nancy's lead.
Rennes attempted to fight back after the break but Nancy were far too well-organised and could have added further goals on the counter-attack. Pouplin pushed a header from Nancy's Kim on to the bar and the few chances the hosts did have to get back into the match went begging as Mickael Pagis, a summer signing from Marseille, and Briand yet again missed opportunities.
Lille and Lorient played out a goalless draw that was marred by an horrific facial injury suffered by Lorient captain Ulrich Le Pen.
The left-sided midfielder was injured in a collision with his own goalkeeper Fabien Audard early in the second-half and the bloodied player had to leave the field on a stretcher. Thankfully he regained consciousness although the extent of the injury was not known at the time of writing.
A draw was a fair result after a tepid game between two sides more intent on protecting a point than taking risks to earn victory. Lille striker Nicolas Fauvergue had the best chance of the first-half when he found himself one-on-one against Audard but the Lorient keeper produced a great save to keep the scores level.
Nicolas Fauvergue and Christophe Jallet jump for the ball
Audard again proved the hero when he denied Kevin Mirallas at point-blank range after the break before Lorient looked to hit on the counter-attack as Lille tired late on. The visitors' best chance fell to Marama Vahirua, a summer signing from Nice, when the striker found himself unmarked on the penalty spot but was frustrated as Lille's stand-in goalkeeper Gregory Malicki pulled off a superb save.
It was clear that Lille - who sold Kader Keita and Mathieu Bodmer to Lyon over the summer and were without suspended midfielder Jean Makoun - have plenty of work to do if they are to challenge for the European places while Lorient seem set to take a prudent approach in what may be a difficult second season after promotion.
PSG and Sochaux shared the points in a close encounter in Paris on Saturday evening. Neither side forced a breakthrough but enough evidence was on offer to suggest that both teams could still play a big part in the upcoming season.
In a first-half largely dominated by Sochaux, the first chance at the Parc des Princes fell to Sebastien Grax, the French forward shooting past Mickael Landreau as well as the goal. Several opportunities came and went for les Lionceaux as PSG failed to get out of first gear. But for the reactions of Landreau and some slack finishing from the visiting side, the capital club may very well have found themselves three or four goals down by the break. As it was, Pauleta had his team's only real chance after 38 minutes, a shot which cannoned back off Teddy Richert's post.
Pauleta hit the post for PSG
The Parisians, aided no doubt by a stern half-time talk from Paul Le Guen, showed much more resilience in the second 45 and Pierre-Alain Frau could have put his team 1-0 up with a fine effort on 52 minutes only to see Richert palm it wide. Amara Diané nearly found the net with his first touch of the game after coming on as a substitute but his shot bounced off the post.
A frantic last few minutes saw both sides exchange gilt-edged chance, first Frau hitting the crossbar before, in the dying seconds, Landreau produced another fine save to divert an attempted lob from Julien Quercia.
Laurent Blanc won the battle of the new managers as Guy Roux's Lens fell 1-0 to Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban Delmas on Saturday evening, a David Bellion goal splitting the two teams.
Blanc, who is enjoying his debut season as a coach, got off to the best possible start as his Bordeaux side outplayed and outclassed a Lens side who suffered a 90th minute sending-off of Sidi Keita. Bellion's goal, a team effort which finished off with the former Manchester United man slotting past Vedran Runje, was the difference but Roux will rue the missed chance to equalise that fell to Olivier Monterubio on 85 minutes.
Lens' Sidi Keita received his marching orders
Indeed, the former Auxerre veteran will be disappointed in the way in which his team finished the match, Keita receiving a straight red for a two-footed challenge on Florian Marange in injury-time.
Next for Bordeaux is the visit to Auxerre while Lens must host PSG, another pair of tests for the two most closely watched managers this season.