Matchday 22 - Midweek Round-up
Lyon get back to winning ways while PSG rack up a precious victory and Marseille are held by Nancy.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Ben Arfa 27, Benzema 74
After a week that saw them crash out of the League Cup and handed a drubbing in the League, Lyon bounced back in fine style, sweeping aside the challenge of Lorient.
Manager Alain Perrin was without the services of four key players - Juninho, Patrick Müller, Cris and Cleber Anderson - but his much vaunted attacking trio showed their worth yet again, scoring the goals that restored confidence after a difficult week for the champions.
After a lively start from both sides it was Lyon who made the breakthrough. And what a breakthrough it was, as Fred and Hatem Ben Arfa combined brilliantly to fashion an opening goal just before the half-hour mark. Jeremy Toulalan picked the ball up in the middle, drifted out to the right and found Tottenham target Fred with a precise ball. The Brazilian controlled the ball and laid it off to the onrushing Ben Arfa who smashed a first-time shot past the helpless Fabien Audard in the Lorient goal.
Moments later it was almost two as Karim Benzema crashed a shot against the bar.
Lyon weren't having it all their own way, with Marama Vahirua and Rafik Saifi proving a real handful, but with Fred and Benzema both hitting the bar in the second half, Lorient never really looked like getting anything from the game.
With 15 minutes to go, the points were finally secure when Benzema finally got his goal. A pinpoint cross from Kim Kallstrom found the 21-year-old unmarked, and after controlling the ball he smashed in his 14th goal on a sensational season.
Mirallas 15, Obraniak 40, Cabaye 52
Le Mans 1
Struggling Lille put in a superb performance at the Stade Metropole, comprehensively beating Le Mans to record a first league victory since the middle of December.
Having started the game in the bottom three, Claude Puel's began the match strongly,a Fernandes Bastos free-kick being brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Rodolphe Roche in the opening minutes. Given the quality of that effort, it was no surprise was no surprise to see Lille take the lead on the quarter-hour mark through the same route. Another excellent dead-ball delivery from Bastos rebounded back off the frame of the goal and Belgian striker Kevin Mirallas was on hand to coolly slot the ball in.
Lille continued to dominate and when midfielder Ludovic Obraniak smashed in an unstoppable strike from outside the box five minutes before the break, there seemed no way back for Le Mans. Five minutes after the restart, that fact was confirmed as a free kick from Yohan Cabaye eluded everyone in the box, including Roche, an ended up in the back of the net.
Perhaps still on a high after their League Cup win over Lyon last week, Le Mans struggled throughout, failing to capitalise on a numerical advantage - Lille's Stephan Lichsteiner was dismissed for a high tackle - and generally looking out of sorts. A late goal from Hasan Yebda was a mere consolation.
A late goal from France striker Frederic Piquionne's handed Monaco a crucial three points in their bid for European football next season, lifting the Principality side to fifth in the table.
With little over 10 minutes of a tense game with struggling Sochaux left to play, the 22-year-old slipped free of his markers in the box and slotted home the winner.
Piquionne might have finished - it was his seventh of the season - but the goal was solely down to the individual brilliance of the Brazilian Nene. The former Alaves and Celta Vigo winger jinked this way and that, utterly bamboozling the defenders, before whipping over a cross that simply demanded finishing.
With the score only at 0-0 because of the brilliance of Ricardo in the Monaco goal, the relief around the Stade Louis II was palpable, and while a deflated Sochaux did give it a go in the closing minutes, Monaco, and Ricardo, held firm.
A goalless draw between Caen and Auxerre was a result that does little to further the hopes of either side, but with both teams hitting the frame of the goal, the scoring stalemate was perhaps a fair outcome.
In a scrappy and tense game there just three meaningful incidents. With just 14 minutes on the clock, Caen's Argentinian forward Juan Eluchans smashed a superb cross from Yoan Gouffran against the post with Auxerre goakeeper Olivier Sorin well beaten.
Having ridden their luck, though, it was then Auxerre's turn to be denied, with
Romanian striker Daniel Niculae hitting the post for the second time in four days and then Kamel Chafni doing the same thing in the 93rd minute. Given that fact, Auxerre might view it as two points dropped, and with other results going against them, Jean Fernandez's side slip into the bottom three.
Luyindula 4, Rothen 33, Diané 54
PSG moved up to 12th in the Ligue 1 table with an emphatic 3-0 win over relegation candidates Metz at the Parc des Princes.
The defeat leaves les Grenats a massive 12 points adrift at the foot of the standings, a position that almost certainly affirms their candidacy for the drop.
Paul Le Guen's side raced into a 1-0 lead after just four minutes with Peguy Luyindula finishing off a deflected Jérôme Rothen cross.
Rothen then himself got on the scoresheet as the capital club extended their advantage on 33 minutes. And it was Luyindula who returned the favour with provided the pass for the midfielder to thrash home a stunner past Christophe Marichez.
The match was all over for Metz nine minutes into the second period as Amara Diané ended all hope for the visiting side with a third decisive goal.
PSG have now won three on the trot, an impressive resurgence, but must still be wary of the fact that they lie just three points clear of the relegation zone.
Nice made it 12 consecutive games unbeaten in Ligue 1 thanks to a comeback draw with Rennes at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.
The south-coasters, who are enjoying the heady heights of fourth in the standings, last experienced a league defeat at the hands of Le Mans at the beginning of October.
And although Rennes dominated proceedings in the first-half and scored first in the second period, les Aiglons fought back impressively and showed much steel and determination.
The game's first goal came with seven minutes of the restart with the electrifying Jimmy Briand side-footing past Hugo Lloris.
Surprisingly, considering Rennes' control of the game, Nice equalised almost immediately.
The equaliser though was a thing of beauty. Taking the ball on his chest just outside the area the young Anthony Modeste turned on the spot and fired home an unstoppable volley.
Rennes were unable to make their authority count and will rue not taking advantage of their first-half pressure. Meanwhile, the Nice juggernaut rolls on.
Gameiro 21, Cohade 90
A goal in each half from Strasbourg sent Toulouse to their eighth defeat of the season. Elie Baup's team struggled throughout against an inspired and energetic home side and must now count themselves among one of the half dozen teams lying on the cusp of relegation.
Le TFC have found it hard to replicate the form they enjoyed last season when they forged a reputation as an extremely hard team to beat. This year they are rapidly earning the status of a team who, once they have conceded the first goal, fail to fight back for the win.
In the nine occasions, both home and away, this season that Toulouse have allowed the opposition to score first, they have drawn two and lost seven. And when Kevin Gameiro strode through in 21 minutes to score his team's first, that statistic never looked like being erased.
Last year's Ligue 2 combatants made it two in injury-time with Renaud Cohade finishing off a miserable night for Toulouse but a wonderful evening for Strasbourg.
Marseille snatched a draw away to Nancy at the Stade Marcel Picot thanks to a goal from young OM starlet Samir Nasri. The 20-year-old midfielder, and French international, volleyed home from close range to extend the visiting side's impressive run to just one league defeat in 11 matches.
For their part, Nancy were unlucky to have finished the game with just the one point and not three. Pablo Correa's team have now recorded six draws in the past eight games.
The home side dominated the fist-half but were unable to prove decisive enough in front of goal. By contrast, Marseille were poor.
Nancy's game though changed in the second period. Within three minutes of the restart Jonathan Brison fired home an impressive set-piece to put his team on course for an unlikely victory. That was until Nasri's late intervention, a goal which puts OM within eight points of Nancy, and third.