Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coupe de France Quarter Finals

Quevilly 3 - 2 Marseille

The 16th placed team in the third tier handed OM their 7th straight defeat; it was not a weak Marseille side selection-wise, I thought the amateurs (literally) would flag in extra time but they got the winner in the last minute after keeper Bracigliano dropped a clanger. Bracigliano will be the keeper against Bayern btw, as Mandanda is suspended. DiDi had a go at the ref, the OM president had a go at DiDi, OM could be back to the 'meltdown' setting on their season.
Suggested headline: Norman Conquest

GFCO Ajaccio 1 - 0 Montpellier

Gah. This was a weaker Montpellier team sent to Corsica to battle third-tier opposition (although Gazelec are currently 2nd and look likely to come up) which is probably understandable given the thinness of the squad and the importance of the league, but it was a risk that didn't come off. A bad-tempered match, with Gazelec pouncing better on their chances.
Suggested headline: En Corse for the Semi-Finals

Valenciennes 1 - 3 Rennes

It was 1-1 at half-time, but Kadir (VFC) was sent off on 42mins for attempting to break M'Vila's leg (he's OK), and they just couldn't put anything together after that. Pretty comfortable for Rennes.
Suggested headline: Je ne regrette Rennes

PSG 1 - 3 Lyon

Nene opened the scoring after a harshly given penalty (Umtiti handball, but there was very little he could have done about it), Lyon equalised with a superb freekick from Kallstrom, and then went ahead from Lisandro (who later missed an absolute sitter); 1-2 Lyon at halftime, and the story of the second half was 'Olympique Lloris' as PSG piled on the pressure and the shots. PSG have been getting key goals at the last minute a lot recently, and looked likely to do it again (which would have made Remi Garde's defensive stockpiling substitution approach problematic in extra time), but it was Lyon who got one at the death, another penalty after Jallet clattered Michel Bastos. If Lloris plays like that for France...
Suggested headline: Lloris the Lyon-Heart

Semi-final fixtures (10 April, 19.30 GMT ):
Quevilly v Rennes
GFCO Ajaccio v Lyon

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ligue 1 28th Round - Saturday Games

At the top of the table, PSG travelled to Caen, beaten 3-0 by Montpellier last week, but pulling themselves together for this encounter. The home team scored first with a counterattack at speed in the 52nd minute; Sirugu parried but Frau pounced on the follow-up. PSG then made a double change, with Hoarau coming off for Jallet, and equalised in the 55th with a lucky break, Pastore’s heavy touch in the box bouncing back off the defender and landing nicely for him to finish. Heurtaux restored the lead for Caen with a header from a corner in the 69th, and Fajir forced a great save from Sirugu with a cracking freekick in the 80th, but the points were shared when Jallet showed some lovely control to chest the ball down and followed with a belting finish for an injury time equaliser. Overall, slightly fortuitous for PSG, who looked shaky in defence, but another late goal from them shows their focus and determination.

Second-placed Montpellier travelled to Nancy, both teams threatening early on, but Nancy had a goal disallowed on 42 minutes when the referee did not play advantage after a foul by Hilton on Traoré; he sent the Montpellier defender off but Nancy couldn’t convert the free kick. Thus, both teams were aggrieved at half-time, and things did not improve for Montpellier; Stambouli, taking Hilton’s place, brought Karaboué down on the hour mark and was also sent off. A penalty was awarded, although the foul looked to have been outside the area, which André Luiz converted, Jourdren stopping the shot with his feet but the ball spinning back and in. Giroud rattled the bar from a free-kick in the 83rd minute but Montpellier could do little from open-play with only nine men, and it finished 1-0 to Nancy.

Evian scored early against Auxerre with Barbosa crossing for a close-range finish from Kahlenberg on 8 minutes; the visitors got a second in injury time from Bérigaud as Auxerre pressed for the equaliser and left too much space. They stay in the bottom three, Evian have increased the gap between their tenth place and the pack below them.

Bordeaux looked likely to continue their quiet but determined run when Diabité scored in the 71st after a corner, but Ajaccio showed their mettle, and a lovely strike from Poulard, to level the scores in injury time.

Lorient managed to score (really) twice (really) at home to Brest, after the visitors went ahead early on with a superb strike from Ben Basat. First Ecuele Manga headed in from a corner on 52 minutes, then Monnet-Paquet got the winner in the 87th. Lorient last won in November, and were heading towards the drop-zone, so there will be sighs of relief at the Stade du Moustoir.

Marseille’s early season yips could be back after they lost 1-2 at home to Dijon; Rémy opened the scoring with a penalty in the 11th minute after a handball from Meïte, but the visitors hit back in the 24th, Sankharé scoring after a fast break caused chaos in the box and left four Marseille defenders and Mandanda in a heap on the turf. Dijon then got a penalty late on after Nkoulou pulled at Koné’s shorts and the striker gratefully went to ground, Kakuta with the winning spot-kick. OM are now without a win in seven games, a run which includes losses to all three promoted teams; Bayern are likely to be feeling rather confident right now.

Finally, St Etienne were at home to Lyon in a derby les Verts really needed to win. The pitch cut up badly, Bastos falling over when taking a freekick which kicked up a divot a foot across; this was a bad-tempered match with three yellows apiece, and could have seen more. Lyon’s domination paid off with a fabulous goal from Gomis on the 80th minute; he paid tribute to Abidal in his celebration. The 1-0 win means Lyon go 4th, but either Rennes or Toulouse would leapfrog them with a result from their match-up on Sunday. PSG now have a two-point lead over Montpellier at the top of the table.