• Thursday, 24 December 2009

    Lille emerge as contenders: Ligue 1 reviews

    Lens 1-0 St Etienne
    Sochaux 2-0 Rennes
    Marseille 0-2 Auxerre
    Lyon 1-2 Montpellier
    Lorient 3-2 Valenciennes
    Nice 2-2 Boulogne
    PSG 4-0 Grenoble
    Le Mans 1-1 Monaco
    Nancy 0-4 Lille
    Toulouse 1-2 Bordeaux

    While Bordeaux stretched their lead to nine points over the chasing pack ahead of the winter break, they cannot be considered the form horse of Ligue 1. That accolade falls to Lille who have now stuck 19 goals away in their last five league games, this week's tubbing of Nancy the fourth 4-0 win they've managed in that sequence. Home or away, they're playing with confidence and an attacking verve that few seem capable of matching, and that includes the runaway league leaders. Indeed, Laurent Blanc had lamented the lack of positivity around his team in recent weeks as they ground results out while all around were intent on blowing any challenge to their superiority. Were it not for Lille's bad start to the season, then we'd have a real tussle on, but they gave everybody a ten-point start before finally clicking in mid-October. Gervinho has emerged as the man for them and he stuck away goals number nine and ten as Nancy were brushed aside. Eden Hazard, the exciting young Belgian winger who was absent for the first dozen weeks of the season, opened the scoring just before the break and Gervinho's first doubled the lead shortly after it. Joel Sami was sent off on the hour for bringing down Pierre-Alain Frau in the box for a penalty which Frau converted - that's him on nine for the season - and Gervinho's second wrapped up yet another impressive win. LOSC are on the up.

    Bordeaux ground out three more points in Toulouse, coming from behind after Paulo Machado put Les Violets in front four minutes in, but Marouane Chamakh levelled just four minutes later. Cheikh M'Bengue was sent off for bringing down Chamakh on the edge of the box and Wendel, only ten minutes after coming off the bench, curled in the free-kick. Every other of the supposed front runners lost ground. Lyon went down at home to Montpellier who end the year in a more than creditable third place. Bafetimbi Gomis grabbed what looked to be an equaliser late on after Hugo Montano had put Montpellier in front, but Joris Marveaux struck even later to send Lyon crashing to their third home defeat of the season and on the precipice of a crisis. Marseille were beaten by Auxerre, Dennis Oliech with a double for AJA.

    Valenciennes blew a lead twice on Lorient, Morgan Amalfitano twice equalising for the Bretons before Franco Sosa won it for them. Monaco were held in Le Mans, Park Chu-Young equalising Anthony Le Tallec's opener and PSG won big, sticking four past Grenoble. Pegguy Luyindula and Sylvain Armand got early goals to set them on their way and the win was completed by Mevlut Erding and Christophe Jallet. Rennes lost ground, Asamoah Gyan sent off early on and Sochaux captialising through Stephane Dalmat and Edouard Butin.

    At the bottom, Nice had Mickael Poté to thank for twice rescuing them against Boulogne. Damien Perrinelle and Jérémy Blayac twice gave Boulogne the lead with Poté equalising both times, the second coming just four minutes from time. Lens left it even later to beat St Etienne who, again, had Jeremie Janot's fine form to thank for keeping them in a game they were second best in. They were looking good for a point, but Blaise Matuidi pulled down Tofilou Maoulida in the box in the last minute. Eduardo dos Santos stepped up and sank the penalty which leaves St Etienne in the drop zone at the end of the year.

    That's it from Ligue 1 until January 13 when the league resumes after the winter shutdown.

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