Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 3 September 2009

Jeu du Jour Week 4: Fin de la ligne

Note the day in your diary: Sunday 30th August 2009 – the day Bordeaux's record breaking run of consecutive wins finally came to an end. Not that it saw a change in leader at the top of the Ligue 1 table – Les Girondins' 0-0 draw at Marseille means they remain the team to beat in France.

Bordeaux's run of fourteen back-to-back league wins that started in mid-March 2009 finally ended following a goalless draw at the Stade Velodrome. The current champions were somewhat lucky even to hold onto their long unbeaten run as the home side hit the woodwork twice through Brandao and Bruno Cheyrou. Indeed the home side were in the ascendency for much of the game, but they were lucky not have missed out on a point themselves when Bordeaux's Brazilian midfield Jussie saw his headed goal ruled out for an earlier discrepancy.

So the first match of the season involving the big three sees Bordeaux stay top and Marseille slip to fifth, and that slip has been caused by one of last season's three promoted sides from Ligue 2, Montpellier.

Runners-up to Lens in 2008/09, the South coast team have climbed to fourth place after maintaining their unbeaten start with a 3-0 win away to Nice. The game, however, was marred by crowd trouble when, in the second half, Nice fans threw fireworks onto the pitch and play was suspended for 20 minutes.

Montpellier had extended their lead to 2-0 four minutes after the interval through Victor Montano and it was here that the unrest among the home fans began. The referee ordered the players off until the situation had improved, and once it had, Nice picked up from where they left off with more great play, adding a third through Lilian Compan thirteen minutes from time. Shortly after, Nice saw their Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam sent off for a second bookable offence to round off a dismal day for The Eagles.

Montpellier are joined by their fellow promotees, Boulogne and Lens in the top half of the table. Lens are up to sixth after a 2-2 draw at home to Rennes in which they fought from behind to lead 2-1, only to concede a 90th minute equaliser from Asamoah Gyan. In what proved to be an entertaining match, the away side started well with Gyan hitting the crossbar after Ismael Bangoura had given them the lead after just five minutes.

Having been on the back foot for some time, Lens equalised through a Yohan Demont penalty after 21 minutes but they were reduced to ten men when Marco Ramos was sent off early in the second half. It proved the spur for Lens to search for more goals and they took the lead eighteen minutes from time when Issam Jemaa headed in for a second, but Petter Hansson ensured Rennes deservedly got a share of the points with a well-struck shot in stoppage time.

Boulogne continue to surprise despite handing Auxerre their first point of the season in a goalless stalemate at the Stade de la Libération (the first time there's been a goalless match this Ligue 1 season). It was hardly the most entertaining game but the Ligue 1 newcomers did at least ensure that Auxerre were made to suffer their fourth game without scoring.

AJA are at least off the bottom of the table, an honour which has now been bestowed upon Grenoble, the only team without a point after four games. So bad was their form that even Saint-Etienne managed to beat them on Saturday. Few will be surprised to learn that both teams lacked much in the way of confidence, but Christophe Landrin grabbed the vital winner for Les Verts after 23 minutes to lift his side out of the bottom three.

Elsewhere, Lyon remain unbeaten and in third place thanks to a 3-1 win over the faltering Nancy. All three goals for Lyon came from their new signings Bafetimbi Gomis, Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos while the away side notched one up in the second half through Youssouf Hadji, brother of one-time Coventry City midfielder, Mustapha.

PSG are giving some heft to our pre-season prediction of future greatness by moving up to second spot with a 3-0 win at home to Lille. The visitors, whose only wins this season have come in both legs of their Champions League qualifier against Genk, put up a brave fight but two goals in the last twelve minutes from PSG finally sank any chances they had of grabbing a point.

Toulouse, like Lille, appear to be suffering from a similar dose of Euro fatigue after they surprisingly lost 1-0 to lowly Valenciennes. Having sent Trabzonspor packing with a 3-2 aggregate win in the Europa League last week, Toulouse had trouble breaking down the away team who, prior to this match, were without a point.

Three minutes from the end of normal time, it looked like both teams would get a point, but up popped Mamadou Samassa to smash home a dramatic winner which sends Valenciennes flying up to 15th spot in the table. Toulouse drop to 13th.

Finally this week, there were two mid-table match-ups featuring four of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Sochaux beat Monaco 1-0 thanks to a 20th minute penalty by Vaclav Sverkos, and Lorient beat Le Mans by the same scoreline – Tahitian striker Marama Vahirua getting the winner mid-way through the second half.

In the top goalscorers table, Yoann Gourcuff of Bordeaux still leads the way with four, one ahead of teammate Marouane Chamakh and two ahead of a wide range of different players from the whole of Ligue 1.

That's all for now. Until next week, it's à bientôt. Results and tables here.

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