Pujol double lifts Valenciennes
Grégory Pujol scored twice and set up another as Valenciennes FC moved off the foot of the table by beating AC Ajaccio 3-1 on Saturday.
AC Ajaccio 1 - 3 Valenciennes FC
Daniel Sanchez was still in charge when Valenciennes started the season with a 3-0 defeat of Toulouse FC, and his successor, Ariel Jacobs, had to wait until his third game since taking over the northerners before registering the club's second triumph of the campaign. Pujol's 26th-minute opener was cancelled out by Rudy Mater's unfortunate own-goal six minutes later, but the former FC Nantes striker then teed up Mathieu Dossevi (68') to put the visitors in front before scoring again in added time to end his team's ten-game winless streak. In his post-match press conference, Fabrizio Ravanelli, appointed on a two-year contract this summer, announced the game was his last in charge of Ajaccio.
Valenciennes' only previous win at Ajaccio had come in the duo's first-ever meeting back in 1968, but the visitors looked determined to end that record with a positive start. With Maor Melikson, in particular, lively, the northerners played the more enterprising football, though Gadji Tallo's neat control, smart turn and shot might have given Ajaccio the lead against the run of play.
Marco da Silva went closer still with a long-range free-kick that just about squeezed past the left-hand upright of Guillermo Ochoa's goal before Jacobs' men got the break they deserved. After an exchange of passes with Dossevi, Melikson crossed for Pujol, whose initial effort was blocked by Alessandro Crescenzi, but the veteran striker gratefully snapped up his second goal of the season when the ball broke kindly to him.
Luck may have been against Ajaccio on that occasion, but fortune favoured Ravanelli's side to help them level. When Ronald Zubar met Benoît Pedretti's free-kick, his header had power but lacked direction - that was provided by Mater's right thigh, which sent the ball careering high beyond Nicolas Penneteau and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Pujol should have given his side the lead shortly after the hour mark only to inexplicably head wide a David Ducourtioux cross when unmarked, but he quickly made amends. After Tongo Hamed Doumbia had driven forward and played Pujol in, the forward beat Ochoa to the ball, sending it up and across to Dossevi who had the simplest of tasks in heading into the empty net.
Penneteau had to turn away a close-range effort from Ajaccio substitute Dennis Oliech before the otherwise flawless Zubar sent a great opportunity over the visitors' goal in added time. Pujol was not so generous when substitute Loris Nery played a low ball into his feet at the near post, and he clipped a shot up and beyond Ochoa to clinch a welcome win.