Mon, Aug 06, 2007 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Audel kicks off with a hat-trick

AP, PARIS

PHOTO: REUTERS

Johan Audel scored a hat-trick on Saturday to lead Valenciennes to a 3-1 win over Toulouse in the opening round of the French league.

Valenciennes, who barely escaped relegation last season, went ahead in the fifth minute when Audel scored on a cross from midfielder Carlos Sanchez.

But six minutes later, Nicolas Dieuze leveled with a powerful 20m shot.

Audel gave Valenciennes the lead again in the 29th minute with a header from close range, and he made the game safe in the 57th minute by scoring on a cross from Rudy Mater.

Nancy upset Rennes 2-0 with Marc-Antoine Fortune scoring in the 36th minute on a counterattack off a pass from Youssouf Hadji, who netted with a chip over Rennes goalkeeper Simon Pouplin in the 41st minute.

In Bordeaux, David Bellion, an offseason signing from Nice, gave the hosts a 1-0 victory over Lens.

Mathieu Chalme dribbled into the Lens area before pulling the ball back to Bellion, who scored from close range in the 30th minute. Lens midfielder Sidi Keita was sent off in injury time.

Newly promoted Caen edged Nice 1-0 with Lilian Compan beating Nice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 82nd minute with a header off a cross from Yoan Gouffran.

Monaco played out a draw with Saint-Etienne 1-1. Frederic Piquionne headed in a corner kick for Monaco in the 44th minute, but Saint-Etienne midfielder Pascal Feindouno equalized with a penalty kick in the 47th minute.

Sochaux drew 0-0 with PSG, who hit the post twice.

Pedro Pauleta, the top striker in the French league last season with 15 goals, struck the post in the 38th minute after a one-two with Peguy Luyindula. Substitute Amara Diane outpaced the Sochaux defense in the 67th minute -- but his shot also crashed against the post.

Lille also split the points with Lorient in a game with very few chances.

Lorient midfielder Ulrich Le Pen was replaced in the 49th minute with his face covered in blood after goalkeeper Fabien Audard accidentally kneed him in the face.

Earlier, newly promoted Strasbourg held Marseille to a scoreless draw.

Strasbourg had the best record at home last season in the French second division, staying undefeated in 19 matches.

Marseille, last season's runner-up, were without Samir Nasri with the France midfielder recovering from an ankle injury.

"We knew it would be tough today," Marseille winger Boudewijn Zenden told Canal Plus Television. "We tried. We had a few shots on target, but it wasn't enough."

Strasbourg had the best chances in the second half.

Midfielder James Fanchone headed just wide in the 52nd minute. Forward Wason Renteria's shot 11 minutes later on a cross from Eric Mouloungui was blocked by Marseille goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso.

Marseille striker Djibril Cisse had a goal disallowed in the 84th minute for offside.

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