Matchday 21: Saturday round-up
Djibril Cisse strikes twice as Marseille climb further away from the lower reaches with a 3-1 victory over Valenciennes, and two goals also for Jeremy Menez in Monaco's 4-1 win at Metz. Bordeaux move up to second with a 2-1 win away to Le Mans
Cisse 27 and 72, Rodriguez 51
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Djibril Cisse was hero of the hour as Marseille's superb run of home results since manager Eric Gerets took over continued with a stylish 3-1 victory over Valenciennes.
A strike in each half from the France international and centre-half Julien Rodriguez's third goal of the season made it five wins and a draw under Gerets' tutelage since he replaced Albert Emon back in September.
Gerets will be grateful that Cisse has rediscovered his scoring touch as the striker notched his third and fourth goals in four matches to ensure l'OM's regular centre-forward Mamadou Niang, who is away on international duty with Senegal at the Africa Nations Cup, was not missed.
The visitors started the brighter but Marseille took the lead with their first serious attack shortly before the half-hour mark. Captain Lorik Cana tackled Doumeng in midfield and fed Cisse, who showed how confident he is these days by briskly firing the ball past visiting goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau.
Djamel Belmadi and Johan Audel both tested Steve Mandanda in Marseille's goal after the restart, but a second goal for l'OM shortly afterwards virtually sealed the outcome. Rodriguez took advantage of a misguided sortie by Penneteau to head home Benoit Cheyrou's corner. Thereafter Marseille were in total control, with Cheyrou putting a header narrowly over the bar and Cisse thrashing a shot against the bar following a magnificent team move. Cisse didn't have long to wait to grab his second, however, as Samir Nasri and substitute Boudewijn Zenden combined down the left and Cisse headed home on 72 minutes.
Valenciennes grabbed a consolation nine minutes from time when Audel profited from a mix-up between Mandanda and Rodriguez to prod home his seventh Ligue 1 goal of the season but by then the result was beyond doubt. Marseille move up to 10th while Valenciennes slip a place to fifth although only four points separate the sides.
Le Mans 1
Cavenaghi 13, Fernando 21
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After a blistering start to the match, Bordeaux held on for a superb away win at Le Mans that lifts Laurent Blanc's fast-improving side to second in the table.
From the first whistle, it was clear that fans at the Stade Leon-Bollee were in for an eventful evening. After a couple of early sighters from the Bordeaux forwards, Blanc's side took the lead, a long ball from the back being controlled and lifted over the advancing goalkeeper by Fernando Cavenaghi in one swift movement.
Former Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallec thought he'd restored parity moments later when he slotted home but the assistant's flag was raised for offside. To compound the home side's misery, Bordeaux doubled their lead shortly after when David Bellion's shot rebounded off goalkeeper Yohann Pele and was promptly dispatched by the Brazilian Fernando.
But having looked dead and buried, Le Mans roused themselves as the half drew to a close and pulled a goal back through Martin Douillard. Hopes of a comeback were further enhanced when Bordeaux defender Franck Jurietti was sent off in the dying seconds after a clash with Douillard. Blanc was forced to make a change at half-time, with former Manchester United striker David Bellion being replaced by defender Florian Marange.
Le Mans pushed hard for the equaliser in the second half, and with Fernando going off with a serious leg injury, it looked as though the visitors would be on the back foot for the remainder of the match. But having failed to capitalise on the man advantage, Le Mans were then reduced to 10 themselves when last man Gregory Cerdan was dismissed for a tackle on Wendel. The red card knocked the stuffing out of the home side, and despite a couple of scares, Bordeaux were able to hold on.
Menez 29 and 62, Piquionne 31, Gakpe 83
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A virtuoso display from France U21 striker Jeremy Menez played a major part in Monaco's spectacular 4-1 win at Metz which probably ranked as their best performance of the season and means the home side have taken another step towards relegation.
Two goals in the space of three first-half minutes set up Monaco's win and after Wilmer Aguirre pulled a goal back for the hosts 11 minutes after half-time Monaco stepped up a gear as Menez grabbed his second and substitute Serge Gakpe, another star of France's U21 side, rounded off a convincing victory.
Menez's first was classy as he latched on to a through ball, rounded Metz goalkeeper Christophe Marichez and rolled the ball into an empty net. Two minutes later Monaco doubled their lead when Menez's strike partner Frederic Piquionne scored his sixth goal of the season, profiting from Pascal Delhommeau's poor clearance and a quick pass from Brazilian team-mate Nene to make no mistake from close range.
At 2-0 the game looked over but Metz fought back when substitute Aguirre struck. The Peruvian had been on only 11 minute but met Sebastien Renouard's cross perfectly to head beyond Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma. Hope for the hosts was short-lived, however, as Menez restored Monaco's two-goal advantage just six minutes later. It was another superb goal, as he bore down on Metz's defence, glided past Delhommeau and perfectly placed his shot beyond Marichez. Substitute Gakpe put the icing on the cake for Monaco when he slammed a 20-yard drive into the top corner seven minutes from time.
Monaco climb to seventh and are just two points outside the top four while Metz remain footed to the foot of the table and 16 points from safety.
With Toulouse on a seven-game unbeaten run and sixth-placed Caen last having tasted defeat in November, a well-contested draw was no surprise. Goals in either half, first from Nicolas Dieuze and then Anthony Deroin, ensured parity at the Stadium Municipal.
Having earlier failed to score with a free header from a corner, Dieuze appeared determined to make amends late in the first half, meeting a Salim Arrache with a powerful header that flew past the helpless stand-in goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux. It was the midfielder's first goal since October.
Having rarely been troubled in the first half, Caen could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to have gone in behind so with the deficit forcing his hand, coach Franck Dumas made an immediate change. Having replaced midfielder Benjamin Nivet with the more attack minded Deroin, his side pressed forward in search of a goal.
The substitution was inspired, with Deroin grabbing a second-half equaliser, albeit after some uncertain work by Douchez in the Toulouse goal. Both sides pressed hard for a winner in the remaining 20 minutes, but Caen held on for a deserved point and rise to fourth in the league.
St Etienne 2
Dernis 11, Gomis 84
A goal in either half for St Etienne against struggling Rennes banished the memory of four consecutive defeats and the spectre of coach Laurent Roussey's threatened resignation.
The game began with an air of uncertainty but that was quickly replaced by joy when a long ball from former Arsenal player Efstathios Tavlaridis somehow found Bafetimbi Gomis completely unmarked in the heart of the penalty area. The 22-year-old feigned this way and that before deciding that the simpler way to beat Simon Pouplin was to slide in Geoffrey Dernis at the far post for a tap-in.
Given the circumstances, the gift was just what was needed at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard. St Etienne dominated proceedings throughout, with the only uncertainty remaining being as to how many more goals they would score. After missing a hatful of chances - including an open goal howler from Gomis - they finally wrapped up the points near the end. Fittingly it was Gomis who had the last word, heading Fredy Guarin's corner in from the heart of the penalty area.
Bourillon own goal 19
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The visitors arrived on the back of two wins in the past week (3-0 v Lens in Ligue 1 and 4-0 over Valenciennes in the Coupe de la Ligue) but Gregory Bourillon's first-half own goal was enough to earn the hosts three points.
Bourillon, a stand-in for suspended centre-half Mario Yepes, deflected the ball past his own goalkeeper Mickael Landreau in the 19th minute when Lorient's Rafik Saifi crossed for his strike partner Marama Vahirua but Bourillon got the final touch to divert the ball goalwards. It was nothing less than the home side deserved for a dominant first-half performance, in which Vahirua and centre-half Michael Ciani also came close to scoring.
PSG's attempts to get back into the match made for a spectacular second-half as both sides created chances to score. Pauleta came on at half-time for PSG and put a shot wide before limping off with injury on 62 minutes, while Lorient had goalkeeper Fabien Audard to thank for keeping them in the game, their number one pulling off saves from midfielder Clement Chantome and Jerome Rothen. PSG striker Amara Diane, with four goals in his last two outings, had a glorious opportunity to equalise on 64 minutes but he shot wide with only Audard to beat.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, however - Vahirua forced an excellent double save from Landreau on 58 minutes while an Ulrich Le Pen free-kick with 20 minutes to go forced the visiting goalkeeper to save with his legs. In the end, though, a single goal was enough for Lorient to claim the points and cement their place in the top half. PSG slipped back down towards the relegation zone going into the evening kick-offs.
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Lille earned a vital point in this six-pointer against relegation rivals Sochaux - a point made all the more impressive by the fact the visitors played with 10 men for 85 minutes.
Mathieu Debuchy was given his marching orders in the fifth minute following a foul on Sochaux midfielder Mickael Isabey. It looked certain to be the decisive moment in the match, especially when Sochaux took a 38th-minute lead through Turkish striker Mevlut Erding to go in 1-0 ahead at the break.
But Lille mounted a remarkable second-half comeback to equalise through Ludovic Obraniak and then hang on for 40 minutes to claim a point - although they survived a scare when referee Herve Piccirillo awarded Sochaux a penalty and then reversed his decision after deciding a player had been offside.
Debuchy's red card was the first moment of drama and then Lille stood up well until Erding broke the deadlock by getting in front of Lille centre-half Adil Rami to head home Isabey's cross for his fifth goal of the season. That was enough to secure a half-time lead and Sochaux looked set to double their advantage when Monsieur Piccirillo. awarded them a penalty in the 50th minute. However, after consulting one of his assistants he annulled the decision and rescinded Frank Beria's yellow card for his foul on Isabey after the assistant ruled Isabey had been offside.
Two minutes later Lille equalised as Stefan Lichtsteiner found Kevin Mirallas in the box and he fed Obraniak, who finished from close range. From that point onwards Lille seemed happy to hold on for a point, ceding possession to the hosts, but Sochaux lacked the imagination to break down the visitors' brilliantly-organised defence.
The result means Sochaux stay in the relegation zone with 20pts from 21 matches while Lille lie just one place above in 17th although they have three points more and have played one game fewer.
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Goals at the beginning and end of the match ensured a draw between two evenly matched sides at the Stade de l'Abbe Deschamps. Racing's late equaliser cancelled out Daniel Niculae's early goal and maintained the one-point gap between the two.
Having stuck with the same starting XI that beat Marseille in the League Cup in midweek, Jean Fernandez's faith was rewarded with a goal from virtually the first attack of the game. Auxerre's influential playmaker Thomas Kahlenberg was once again the instigator, spraying a magnificent ball out to Kamel Chafni on the right. His cross found Daniel Niculae in the box and the Romania international's shot found its way past both defender Gregory Paisley and goalkeeper Stephane Cassard to give the home side a fourth-minute lead.
Having squandered numerous chances - striker Niculae's second-half effort hit the post - to extend their lead, Auxerre paid the ultimate price when the previously excellent defensive unit failed to clear with just five minutes left to play. Former Le Mans forward James Fanchone pounced on the mix-up between Jean-Sebastien Jaures and goalkeeper Olivier Sorin to score his side's first goal in five games and grab an unlikely point for Racing.