Matchday 4 Saturday round-up: Two hours of Le Mans!

Ligue 1 Conforama


LE MANS moved to the top - at least for two hours - thanks to a stunning 4-1 win at Nantes, Nice make it three victories on the run with a 2-0 triumph at home to Valenciennes and PSG continue their improvement with another Guillaume Hoarau goal earning them a 1-0 win at Caen.

Ligue 1, Matchday 4
Saturday, 30 August 2008

 Nantes 1-4 Le Mans  

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Le Mans climbed to the top of Ligue 1 with an emphatic 4-1 win at struggling Nantes, two goals in the final five minutes eventually killing off the spirited challenge of the home side.

With just a solitary point to their name after the opening three matches of the campaign, Nantes made a perfect start in what was a crucial game at the Beaujoire. With his first corner not being confidently cleared by the Le Mans defence, David de Freitas swung in another which this time found his midfield partner Guiranne N'Daw who rose highest to head in his first goal for the club since joining from Sochaux.

Joy for the home side was short-lived, however, as Le Mans' Norwegian duo conjured an equaliser in the very next passage of play, Fredrik Stromstad setting up Thorstein Helstad, who comprehensively beat Tony Heurtebis from close range. And as if that wasn't bad enough for the home fans, Le Mans took the lead in the closing seconds of the half with a long-range shot from Modibo Maiga that again eluded Heurtebis.

Try as they might in the second half, Nantes just couldn't find a way past an inspired Yohann Pele in the Le Mans goal. And having battled gamely to get back into the game, Nantes' miserable evening was compounded by the concession of two late goals, from midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur and substitute striker Gervinho, that gave the scoreline a very flattering appearance.

 Caen 0-1 PSG  

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PSG made it three games without defeat as their improvement under Paul Le Guen continued with a 1-0 win at Caen.

Summer signing Guillaume Hoarau notched the crucial goal on six minutes, finishing neatly at the near post following a Jerome Rothen cross. It was Hoarau's second goal following his arrival from Le Havre while another recently-signed striker, ex-Chelsea man Mateja Kezman, watched from the bench.

Caen had most of the possession but never managed to threaten Mickael Landreau in the PSG goal - and the visitors looked more likely to increase their lead than the hosts did to find an equaliser. Hoarau missed a one-on-one against Caen goalkeeper Vincent Plante in the second-half, and much of the build-up play involving PSG's outstanding midfielders Ludovic Giuly and Stephane Sessegnon was too hot for Caen to handle.

PSG now have seven points from four games, with Caen on just four points.

 Grenoble 1-0 Monaco  

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Grenoble bounced back from last weekend's 2-0 derby defeat at the hands of Lyon by beating Monaco 1-0 at Stade des Alpes.

Daniel Moreira scored his second of the season on 19 minutes to earn the points, latching on to a Nassim Akrour knockback to finish at the far post.

Monaco were poor going forward, and their lack of invention was perhaps indicative of the problems they will have now that Jeremy Menez, their talented France U21 striker, has left for Serie A outfit Roma. Yet coach Ricardo can point to a rash of injuries as the reason for this defeat, and will hope his team gets back to winning ways once some of those absentees return.

Grenoble now have nine points from a possible 12, a dream start following their return to Ligue 1 for the first time in 45 years.

 Nice 2-0 Valenciennes   

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Habib Bamogo's first goal of the season set Nice on their way to a third consecutive win as they beat Valenciennes 2-0 at Stade du Ray.

The former Marseille and Celta Vigo striker made the crucial breakthrough on 52 minutes when he finished off a wonderful team move involving the club's record signing Loic Remy, midfielder David Hellebuyck and winger Chaouki Ben Saada.

But in truth the win should have been much easier for Nice - Remy missed a first-half penalty that would have made life far more comfortable for the hosts. The consolation for Frederic Antonetti's side was that Valenciennes defender Siaka Tiene was sent off for the offence that earned the spot-kick having handled in the box.

Striker Remy came close again when he hit the post before the break - but he made up for that miss by adding a second four minutes from time. It was his second for Nice and condemned Valenciennes, who haven't won on the road for more than a year, to another defeat on their travels.

 Lorient 0-2 Auxerre  

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Goals midway through each half gave Auxerre a comfortable win over Lorient at the Stade du Moustoir and lifted Jean Fernandez's side up to ninth in the table.

After a couple of warning shots, the visitors made the breakthrough midway through the first half. A surging run from winger Kamel Chafni took him past a number of Lorient defenders before he squared the ball for striker Ireneusz Jelen. The Poland striker never really had the ball under control but he profited from a kind deflection that left him clear on goal with only Fabien Audard to beat. He made no mistake, planting the ball firmly to the goalkeeper's left.

But having made a decent start to the game, Lorient didn't appear cowed by going a goal behind, and had Rafik Saifi's header been an inch lower they would have been level immediately. Sadly for the home side, it hit the bar and they went in 1-0 down at the break. The second half continued in much the same vein, and 10 minutes in, an equaliser appeared imminent. This time it was Andre Ayew with a good run, and having cut inside two defenders his shot somehow went wide of the target.

It was to be a crucial miss because just minutes later, Auxerre doubled their lead through a Benoit Pedretti strike that gave Audard no chance. Lorient battled gamely, with Kevin Gameiro hitting a post late on, but it was to no avail and Auxerre claimed a second win of the season.

 Nancy 2-1 Le Havre  

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A late strike from Brazilian defender Andre Luiz gave Nancy a scarcely deserved first win of the season and lifted Pablo Correa's side away from the drop zone.

After a cagey opening, it was the visitors who took the lead at the Stade Marcel Picot when Cedric Faure fired in a magnificent shot from outside the box. Minutes earlier goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano had managed to turn away a similarly fierce effort from Jeremy Henin, but this time he had absolutely no chance. That it was only 1-0 at half-time was something of an achievement for Nancy.

Perhaps sensing that his side was on the brink of a thrashing, Correa gambled at half-time and replaced two midfielders, Julien Feret and Londry N'Guemo, with two attack-minded players in striker Moncef Zerka and thrusting full-back Jean Calve. Le Havre almost doubled their lead in the second half, with only the bar preventing 1-0 from becoming 2-0, but with 20 minutes to go Nancy were rewarded when Jonathan Brison slammed home a glorious equaliser.

It certainly looked like a point gained for Nancy, but the smash and grab was not completed until four minutes from time when Andre Luiz rose highest in the box to head in a Brison cross and gift Nancy three points they were lucky to collect.

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