Matchday 16: Saturday round-up
PSG crash to yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Caen (0-1), while Patrick Kluivert is on the scoresheet in Lille's 1-1 draw v Marseille and it's also honours shared on the Riviera between Monaco and Nice
Ligue 1, Matchday 16
A nightmare season continued in the French capital as a terrible defensive error from Ceara gifted Caen victory at the Parc des Princes and left PSG mired in the relegation zone after yet another shocking result.
Without a win at home in the league all season, Paul Le Guen's ailing PSG started the game in the uncomfortable position of 18th in the table. The threat of relegation clearly fired up the home side as captain Pedro Pauleta, former Lyon striker Peguy Luyindula and 18-year-old David N'Gog all went close in the first half. Unfortunately for the nervous crowd at the Parc des Princes, Caen goalkeeper Vincent Plante was in inspired form, making a trio of fabulous saves to keep his side level.
But having dominated large portions of the match without actually managing to breach the Caen defence, it was perhaps inevitable that luckless PSG would be hit with a sucker punch. And so it was 15 minutes from time as Brazilian defender Ceara left a back pass well short of Mickael Landreau that allowed Nicolas Florentin to beat the stricken goalkeeper with little trouble.
After a promising performance, the goal knocked the stuffing out of a PSG side that is now in serious trouble in the lower reaches of Ligue 1. Pauleta powered in another header late on, but that man Plante was equal to it and Caen held on to move up to 10th.
An engaging match between two evenly-matched mid-table sides at the Stade Metropole ended in a predictable draw after Patrick Kluivert's opener was cancelled out by a Mamadou Niang strike just moments later.
With both teams struggling to crack the top 10 after a season of inconsistency, the home fans turned out for this Matchday 16 encounter unsure of what to expect from the match.
After just six minutes, they were on their feet as a rasping free kick from captain Jean Makoun crashed against the bar with Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda beaten.
Dutch striker Kluivert has struggled to make an impact since his arrival at LOSC - scoring just a penalty on Matchday 10 - but the former Barcelona star looked in good form early on as he slotted past Mandanda midway through the first half. Sadly, he was one of two Lille players in an offside position.
But Kluivert would not have to wait long to get his name on the scoresheet as just seconds later, Ludovic Obraniak's through ball split the defence allowing the Holland forward a gilt-edged chance to score. But Lille's lead was shortlived as a mazy run and powerful shot from Karim Ziani - in for the injured Samir Nasri - forced a mistake from Tony Sylva in the Lille goal. Unfortunately for the home side, the ball rebounded to top scorer Mamadou Niang who gleefully notched his fifth goal in three games. Chances were at a premium in the second half, and although both Niang and Obraniak had opportunities to sneak all three points, the draw was a fair result.
Monaco and Nice ended up sharing the points in this derby on the south coast after late drama saw both team net goals in the final five minutes.
A draw had always looked likely - but 0-0, not 1-1. Then Jan Koller popped up with a goal for the hosts, only for opposition centre-forward Lilian Laslandes to net a stunning last-gasp equaliser for the visitors. A draw was a fair result after a game in which neither side took too many chances and both teams largely cancelled out the other in midfield.
During the opening period Monaco's Nene was the liveliest player, his technique and shooting causing all sorts of problems for Nice. The Brazilian had the home side's best chance when he shot powerfully from outside the box but Nice's excellent Hugo Lloris punched away. Yet seven minutes before the break the visitors thought they had taken the lead when Ederson took a free-kick and midfielder Olivier Echouafni headed past Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma. But the refereed ruled that Echouafni fouled Roma and the goal was chalked off.
Camel Meriem got the second-half off to a lively start when he stung Lloris' hands with a powerful shot - but thereafter the pace dropped as Nice defended in numbers and Monaco struggled to break down the opposition defence. The game looked set to be a goalless stalemate until Koller broke the deadlock. Substitute Leandro Cufre had been on the pitch for only a matter of seconds when he delivered a cross from the right and Koller climbed high to place an unstoppable header past Lloris. That looked to have sealed the points for Monaco but Nice grabbed a spectacular equaliser when Laslandes attempted a flying volley from just inside the area that beat Roma all ends up and left the visiting fans delirious in the stands.
Both teams will be happy with a point as Nice stay in fifth place while Monaco climb a place to seventh.
St Etienne 1
Two goals midway through the second half meant it was honours even at the Stade du Moustoir, with neither side quite able to dominate sufficiently to claim all three points.
With chances for both teams early on, there looked to be goals in this game, but when Yohan Hautcoeur squandered a golden opportunity on the half-hour mark - hesitating when clean through on Jeremie Janot's goal - the crowd could have been forgiven for thinking that it was not to be.
Fortunately, for the neutral at least, that turned out not to be the case. Having left Bafetimbi Gomis on the bench in favour of David Gigliotti, St Etienne coach Laurent Roussey sent on the striker 10 minutes into the second half and was instantly rewarded with a goal. Released by midfielder Christophe Landrin, the young forward burst clear and emphatically finished, beating Fabien Audard to notch his fifth goal of the season.
But as the game drifted beyond Lorient , they showed great fortitude to find a way back into the match. With 15 minutes remaining Rafik Saifi, who had gone close earlier in the game, finally found a way past Janot, bamboozling Moustapha Sall with a brilliant piece of trickery before slotting past the helpless goalkeeper to earn a deserved point. And although both sides had to be satisfied with the draw, it was St Etienne who profited, moving up a place while Lorient actually dropped one.
Aruna 20, Monterrubio 57
Lens played their third game in a week but managed to come away with the points thanks to a 2-0 win over Sochaux at Stade Bonal. The visitors - who drew 1-1 at home to Lorient last weekend and then 1-1 v Caen on Wednesday night - scored a goal in either half to win.
Yet the opening goal came against the run of play, as Sochaux dominated the opening 20 minutes. Sochaux centre-forward Moumouni Dagano forced a splendid save from Lens goalkeeper Vedran Runje with a clever lob that very nearly opened the scoring.
But it was Lens who went ahead through Aruna Dindane when winger Olivier Monterrubio set the Ivory Coast international clear and he made no mistake in placing the ball through Sochaux goalkeeper Teddy Richert's legs for his fourth goal of the season.
Sochaux fought back again, with Dagano and midfielder Mickael Isabey forcing Runje into action, but Lens nearly extended their lead when Julien Sable, an early replacement for injured Nenad Kovacevic, forced a stunning save from Richert with his brilliant free-kick. And so the rhythm continued after the break, with Sochaux doing all the attacking and Lens defending. Dagano again came close as a header hit the side netting with striker Julien Quercia shaving the side of the post with a close-range shot.
And then Lens grabbed a second - this time with Aruna returning the favour for Monterrubio. The Ivorian dashed clear and pulled the ball back for Monterrubio to blast the ball home.
Sochaux looked shellshocked and, perhaps realising the game was beyond them, failed to create chances to get back into the match. Dindane had a chance to extend Lens' lead, which would have been cruel on the hosts, but shot just wide.
The result leaves Sochaux languishing in 19th place with just 13 points from 16 matches. Lens climb three places to 12th and make it 20 points for the season.
Metz's woes continued as Auxerre inflicted yet another defeat on Ligue 1's bottom club with a deserved 1-0 triumph at Stade Saint-Symphorien.
Denmark international midfielder Thomas Kahlenberg scored the winning goal in the second-half. Despite a late Metz rally the hosts were unable to get anything out of the match and ended up suffering their 10th defeat in 14 matches. They are 10 points from safety and look increasingly doomed.
Auxerre just about deserved the win having had the better chances to score. Jean Fernandez's visitors had the outstanding scoring opportunity of the first-half, when Ireneusz Jelen found Romania international Daniel Niculae but he blasted over from close range. Kenya international striker Dennis Oliech forced a good save from Metz goalkeeper Christophe Marichez as Auxerre piled on the pressure.
The breakthrough came 10 minutes after half-time. Benoit Pedretti's corner found centre-half Stephane Grichting, and he set up Kahlenberg, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area beat Marichez through the legs.
Once behind Metz played with much greater urgency and 19-year-old substitute Rudy Gestede looked the likeliest to drag them back into the match. After taking the field on 64 minutes he forced visiting keeper Olivier Sorin into a great save when he struck a fierce 30-yard drive, and then Gestede again shot narrowly wide with three minutes to go.
But that was a close as Metz came as Auxerre rode out the final minutes to claim three points.