Matchday 23: Saturday review
Djibril Cisse scores his first hat-trick of the season as Marseille crush Caen (6-1) while Sochaux earn a vital win in their battle against relegation over Valenciennes (1-0) and Lens and Strasbourg share a four-goal thriller (2-2).
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Cisse 28, 54, 56, Valbuena 42, 44, Nasri 81
Cisse grabbed his sixth, seventh and eighth Ligue 1 goals of 2007-08, including two in three minutes in the second-half. Earlier Mathieu Valbuena produced two brilliant strikes in the space of three minutes to put Marseille ahead.
The visitors took a shock lead in the second minute when Yoan Gouffran crossed from the right and Julien Toudic scored at the second attempt after centre-half Julien Rodriguez blocked his first effort. That setback stunned Marseille into a response as Cisse missed a superb headed opportunity and then shot narrowly wide.
But after Marseille equalised through a Cisse header the hosts ran away with the game. They piled on the pressure and Valbuena put them in the clear thanks to two virtuoso efforts. On 42 minutes he found the top corner with a stunning 25-yard blast that evoked memories of his brilliant winner against Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League last September, and he followed up three minutes later with a fabulous chip over Costil from the edge of the penalty area to send Marseille in 3-1 ahead at the break.
Cisse completed his hat-trick with strikes in the 54th and 56th minutes, first latching on to a Samir Nasri through ball to leave Costil stranded in goal and then pouncing on a botched Brahim Thiam clearance to finish coolly. But there was no question of the hosts easing up, as Nasri notched his second goal in two games when he cut in from the left to finish with an unstoppable drive. Even then Marseille might have increased their lead against the shellshocked visitors as Nasri grazed the outside of a post in injury time.
Marseille have climbed to eighth, their highest position of the season, and are now just five points off the top four with 32pts. Caen remain sixth on 34pts.
The visitors started the game brightly, with the ever-threatening Steve Savidan almost opening the scoring in the first few minutes. But having found himself unmarked in front of the goalkeeper he contrived to lift the ball over both Teddy Richert and the Sochaux crossbar.
Ten minutes later, Valenciennes were made to pay for such profligacy. A deep corner from former Tottenham midfielder Stephane Dalmat eluded the entire defence, landing on the head of Brechet who guided in his first goal of the season to give Sochaux a shock lead.
Richert was called into action moments later to deny Gregory Pujol, but having gone behind, Valenciennes were unable to mount a response. Indeed it was Sochaux who looked the more likely scorers with debutant Kandia Traore and Gonzalo Vargas forcing saves from Nicolas Penneteau in the Valenciennes goal. Having started the day six points from safety, Sochaux are just starting to believe that they can escape the drop.
Monterrubio 5, 82
Renteria 3, Santos 77
Strasbourg began the day two places and two points better off than their hosts and silenced the crowd by scoring with virtually the first attacking move of the match. Colombian forward Wason Renteria latched on to a header from Guillaume Lacour and lifted the ball beyond the helpless goalkeeper Vedran Runje to claim his seventh goal of the season.
Incredibly, though, Jean Pierre Papin's men were behind just a matter of seconds, with the referee, M Lamarre, awarding a penalty after Toifilou Maoulida was fouled in the box. Winger Olivier Monterrubio stepped up to convert the spot-kick, the former Nantes and Rennes player registering his first goal since the first week of December.
With both sides cancelling each other out, the remainder of the first half failed to maintain such scoring form. In the second half, however, Lens picked up the pace, with Monterrubio and Nadir Belhadj troubling goalkeeper Stephane Cassard.
Typically, having shown such attacking intent, Lens were caught out by a well-worked corner that was straight off the training ground. Substitute Alvaro Santos was in the perfect place to meet the ball and score with his first touch. But Lens under Papin are a tough side to beat, and yet again they hit back almost immediately. The equaliser was an equally well-practised effort, as Monterrubio's free kick ensured it was honours even in a gripping encounter.
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A last-minute goal from Nice's Brazilian midfielder Ederson earned a valuable point against struggling Toulouse.
Without a win since December 8 and without a number of key players, Toulouse manager Elie Baup fielded an attack-minded line-up, with strikers Johan Elmander and Pierre-Andre Gignac being supported by Paulo Cesar and Salim Arrache. The gamble certainly paid off midway through the first half as the home side took the lead.
A corner was flicked on at the near post by Paulo Cesar and captain Dominique Arribage contorted himself to score his first goal of the season with an acrobatic effort. After 10 years at the club, the 36-year-old has now reached the landmark figure of 20 goals.
But Nice came into the game in good form, unbeaten since beginning of October and on a run that has seen Frederic Antonetti's side take 11 of a possible 15 points in recent weeks, so it was no surprise that they hit back straight away. A header from former Sunderland striker Lilian Laslandes look destined to be the equaliser, but the ball crashed against the bar and rebounded to safety.
Having survived that scare and several others in the second half, a first win since December 8 was tantalisingly close for Toulouse, but with just seconds remaining Brazilian Ederson headed home a David Hellebuyck corner to grab a priceless point for Nice.
Auxerre remain mired in the relegation zone after a goalless draw in difficult conditions at the Stade l'Abbe Deschamps.At one point it was thought that match might have to be postponed because of thick fog that had enveloped the ground. But at the last minute, the gloom lifted and play got under way 30 minutes later than scheduled.
Perhaps it might have been better for the game not to have taken place, because both sides seemed affected by the delay. The closest the hardy spectators came to seeing a goal in the first half was a free kick from Benoit Pedretti that whistled past the Nancy goal.
In the second period, Auxerre showed the greater urgency, which was the least you might expect of a side in the bottom three, but as the game wore on it was Nancy, without a league win since November, that almost stole all three points. A rocket shot from midfielder Pascal Berenguer was well saved by Olivier Sorin and the goalkeeper was also on hand to deny Marc-Antoine Fortune in the dying minutes to secure a point for the hosts.
The hosts were depleted as well as demoralised with goalkeeper Yohann Pele, centre-half Marko Basa and striker Tulio De Melo all injured, while Romaric, Gervinho (Ivory Coast) and Ibrahima Camara (Guinea) were on international duty at the Africa Nations Cup. Yet the hosts deserved the three points for a gritty display against disappointing visitors in a game of very few chances.
When the breakthrough came it was a soft goal. Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma will feel he ought to have done better as he could only push a corner into the path of Japan midfielder Daisuke Matsui, who blasted home from close range.
Monaco will be angry with themselves as they had the better chances to score before the break. Brazilian midfielder Nene forced a save from stand-in goalkeeper Rodolpe Roche and Jerko Leko was unable to prod home the simple follow-up. Then Jeremy Menez underlined his brilliance by beating Jean Calve and Le Mans' new Brazilian defender Geder but shot just wide.
Monaco lost momentum after the break as the increasingly confident hosts skilfully defended their lead. The visitors were restricted to shots from distance and had to wait until injury time for a clear scoring opportunity when Roche turned away Adriano's free-kick.
This result puts Le Mans up to seventh place on 33ts while Monaco remain fifth on 34pts.
Lille and PSG played out a goalless draw in Saturday's early kick-off, a result that does little to ease both sides' relegation fears.
The two teams went into the match on the back of impressive midweek wins - Lille 3-1 over Le Mans, PSG 3-0 v Metz - but neither side was able to make the breakthrough on a day when defences dominated.
Lille had far more possession in the first-half but the first real opening fell to Peguy Luyindula, who received a pass from attacking partner Amara Diane and struck a powerful shot from the edge of the area that forced Lille's reserve goalkeeper Gregory Malicki into a spectacular save. That attempt on goal awoke Lille as Yohan Cabaye blasted a shot three minutes later but watched it come back off a post.
After half-time, however, both teams seemed happier to play for a draw. Mario Yepes was masterful at the back for the visitors while Rio Mavuba, who has arrived on loan at Lille from Spanish outfit Villarreal for the remainder of the season, showed his quality by patrolling in front of the defence to great effect.
The best chance fell to Michel Bastos, but the Brazilian midfielder shot wide of Mickael Landreau's post with his weaker right foot as Lille were unable to make the breakthrough. During the final 20 minutes the game seemed destined to end a stalemate, and so it turned out.
Lille have 27pts from 22 games with PSG on 29pts from 22 games.
The hosts started strongly, with Cyril Chapuis lobbing narrowly over the bar on four minutes and a Wilmer Aguirre effort grazing the outside of the post on 11 minutes. Daniel Gygax hit a volley wide as well, but the visitors had chances, too - Mickael Pagis saw Metz goalkeeper Christophe Marichez stop an effort and then a superb one-two between Pagis and Sylvain Wiltord seemed certain to result in a goal but Pape Malik Diop managed to clear off the line with Marichez beaten.
Such a build-up of pressure paid off, however, as Rennes took the lead three minutes later. Metz failed to clear their lines properly and when the ball fell to Thomert he struck a superb left-foot volley into the top corner of the net.
Metz countered with attacks of their own but the problems that have plagued them all season were apparent as they frequently missed the target. After the break Rennes sat back and were content to hit the hosts on the break but Rennes striker Jimmy Briand was made to pay for squandering chances when Metz grabbed an equaliser 14 minutes from time. And it was a great goal, too - Gygax crossed from the left and Momar N'Diaye jumped highest to place a powerful header into the roof of the net. It was the Senegalese striker's third goal of the season.
The result will hardly help save Metz from relegation - they lie 20th, 19 points from safety - but at least means the club have salvaged some pride after a 3-0 hammering at PSG in midweek. Rennes are 11th on 30pts.