Monday, June 1, 2009

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

It all came down to Matchday 38, and Bordeaux took care of their business with a 1-0 victory over Caen, securing their 1st Ligue 1 title since 1999 and relegating Caen in the process. Elsewhere around Ligue 1 a few results went the wrong way for some clubs, causing PSG to miss out on European competition.

Saturday, May 30th:

Caen 0-1 Bordeaux - Fighting to stay up in Ligue 1, Caen certainly gave Bordeaux their best effort in this match, but the title-winning/relegating goal came from a former Caen star. In the 6th minute Gouffran had his shot saved by Caen GK Plante, and shortly after ben Khalfallah's vicious volley was stopped by Bordeaux GK Rame as the clubs traded opportunities. In the 45th minute Jussie hit the post, but Bordeaux would get their goal almost immediately after the restart when a Gourcuff free-kick found Tremoulinas, who crossed to Gouffran for the headed goal. The latter almost had a brace in the 69th minute, but he was stopped by Plante once again. Caen had 1 final chance in the 83rd minute, but Yatabare had his point-blank shot saved by Rame.

Grenoble 0-1 Sochaux - In a fairly even match Sochaux did enough to ensure they stayed up regardless of results in other matches. In the 14th minute Akrour volleyed a shot which elicited a brilliant save from Sochaux GK Richert. In the 17th Akrour was in 1-on-1 but put his shot directly at Richert, and in the 27th the former hit the post. Sochaux finally began to push back, with Erdinq shooting just over the bar in the 37th minute. Just 6 minutes later Erdinq dispossessed Akrour and dribbled the defense before easing past Grenoble GK Wimbee. Sochaux thought they had a 2-0 lead in the 60th on a Sverkos volley, but the goal was disallowed for offsides. The final opportunity of the match also went to Sochaux, as an Erdinq lob forced another save from Wimbee.

Lille 3-2 Nancy - Lille went ahead early and finished late, after Nancy had equalized, to move into a Europa league spot for next year. The match was a back-and-forth affair throughout, although Lille started more quickly. In the 7th minute Cabaye put his shot into the side net, and minutes later Hazard had his goal-bound strike deflected out be a Nancy defender. The opening goal came in the 12th minute when Vittek had an easy finish on a through-ball. 2 minutes later Vittek dispossessed Ouaddou (after some poor control from the latter) and passed to Rami for the 2nd goal. Nancy finally struck back in the 41st minute when Ouaddou atoned for his defensive lapse and shot home from a corner. The second half began much as the first, with Cabaye and Balmont both coming close to giving Lille a 3-1 lead. In the 65th minute Hadji beat the defense and finished clinically for the equalizer, but Lille would regain the lead in the 75th minute when Plestan headed home a corner for the win (picking up the final GSTGC award of the season).

Lorient 1-1 Le Mans - Lorient had 69% of the possession and Le Mans were far more foul-prone (11, to only 4 for Lorient) but the match ended in a draw. With few chances for either club, Le Mans struck in the 17th minute when Gervinho released Helstad on goal, and the latter finished with a low, hard shot. Lorient also scored on their first opportunity, when Ciani headed home a corner in the 36th minute. The latter looked to have a brace in the 58th minute off a Le Pen corner, only to have his header tipped onto the bar by Le Mans GK Pele. Le Mans should have taken the lead minutes later when Gervinho headed a Le Tallec cross toward the goal, but the shot was cleared off the line by Lorient defender Genton. The final chance came in the 75th minute when Le Tallec put his shot straight at Audard.

Marseille 4-0 Rennes - Marseille, hoping for a Bordeaux loss, came out of the gate on fire looking to push their goal differential past Les Girondins. In the end it didn't matter, but L'OM certainly put on an offensive clinic. The first half, however, featured only shots pushed wide and numerous saves from Rennes GK Douchez. The opening goal came in the 53rd minute Kone volleyed home a pass from Cheyrou. In the 57th minute Kone was the provider, leading Niang for an easy finish. Just 1 minute later Kone struck a nasty shot off the post, which bounced into the goal off Douchez for an OG. Niang completed his brace in the 72nd minute after some excellent work down the side from Cheyrou for the final goal.

Nantes 2-1 Auxerre - Despite their win, Les Canaris were relegated but they finished their season in style. In the 12th minute Klasnic sent home a cross from Capoue to give Nantes the early lead. In the 17th minute Dudka missed the equalizer, hitting the post. Disaster almost struck in the 30th when Auxerre defender Hangbart barely escaped an OG trying to head out a free-kick. Berthod equalized in the 48th minute after Oliech had dribbled through the midfield and laid off a perfect ball. Nantes regained the lead in the 52nd when Bagayoko finished off a pass from N'Daw with a shot that caromed in off the post. Auxerre had a chance to equalize again late in the match, but Kitambala sent his shot wide.

Nice 0-0 Le Havre - Bottom-dwellers Le Havre could not muster a shot on goal, yet managed to eke out a draw against a mid-table Nice club. In the 7th minute ben Idir hit the bar, and in the 11th minute Diallo sent his shot over the bar despite an open goal. On the other end of the pitch a shot from Modeste beat Le Havre GK Van Hamel but hit the post, maintaining the draw. In the 71st minute Adeilson was stopped by Van Hamel, while in the 73rd minute Lesage hit the crossbar for Le Havre. Nice had 2 final chances, but Adeilson was twice denied by Van Hamel. At the end of the match Nice gaffer Frederic Antonetti, who is own his way to Rennes, was given an ovation by the home supporters.

Paris Saint-Germain 0-0 Monaco - With the results of this match and others, PSG find themselves outside of European competition by 1 goal. This means that Valenciennes gaffer Antoine Kombouare, confirmed as PSG gaffer for next year, will have only domestic competition on which to focus. In the 15th minute Leko saw PSG GK Landreau off his line, but his lob went over the crossbar. In the 34th minute Landreau made an excellent save on Pino, and 5 minutes later Giuly found himself stopped by Monaco GK Ruffier on the other end of the pitch. In the 60th minute Traore deflected a Pino cross onto the post for a near-OG, as Landreau was well-beaten by the deflection. PSG had a final chance in stoppage time, but Armand hit the crossbar. Freddy Adu watch: Freddy was nowhere near the pitch, as he was in Miami training with the USMNT, having been named to the 24-man roster for the Wed. match against Costa Rica and the Sat. match against Honduras.

Saint-Etienne 4-0 Valenciennes - Saint-Etienne got an emphatic victory to ensure that they will play top-flite football next season, downing an outclassed Valenciennes club 4-0. In the first 10 minutes of the match Mirallas forced 2 saves from Valenciennes GK Penneteau and hit the post once as signals of intent. He then turned provider, sending in a cross in the 14th minute that Ilan volleyed home. In the 23rd minute Gomis had his header stopped by Penneteau for the final realistic opportunity of the first half. Within the first 5 minutes of the second half Penneteau was forced into saves on Machado and Payet, and the floodgates opened for Saint-Etienne. In the 53rd minute Payet had his shot parried away by Penneteau, only to have Gomis put in the rebound. Gomis finished his brace just 4 minutes later on a nice through-ball from Sall. The former then provided the assist in the 67th minute, putting Mirallas in on goal for an easy finish. Gomis could have had a hat-trick late in the match, after beating most of the defense, but he hit the post.

Toulouse 0-0 Lyon - An early free-kick was headed towards the goal by Makoun, but Toulouse GK Carrasso was equal to the task, as he would be all match. A few minutes later Benzema was in 1-on-1 on Carrasso, but the latter did well to make the save. In the 37th minute Lyon were down to 10 men after Mensah was awarded his 2nd YC for a bad tackle on Gignac. At the start of the second half a Braaten free-kick was headed wide by Cetto, while in the 60th minute a Fofana header was stopped by Lyon GK Lloris. This was followed shortly by another 1-on-1 breakaway for Benzema, who was again stopped by Carrasso. The final opportunity came for Toulouse, as Gignac and Sissoko combined for a shot from the former that was saved by Lloris.

So, after Matchday 38, the final Ligue 1 table is: (1) Bordeaux, with 80 points on a 24-8-6 record and a +30 goal differential; (2) Marseille, with 77 points on a 22-11-5 record and a +32 goal differential; (3) Lyon, with 71 points on a 20-11-7 record and a +23 goal differential; and (4) Toulouse, with 64 points on a 16-16-6 record and a +18 goal differential.

Toulouse finish tied on points with: (5) Lille, with a 17-13-8 record and a +12 goal differential; and (6) Paris Saint-Germain, with a 19-7-12 record and a +11 goal differential.

Bordeaux, Marseille and Lyon will appear in Champions League play next year, while Europa League spots go to Toulouse, Lille, and Coupe de France champion Guingamp.

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