Paris Saint-Germain stood alone among the so-called giants of French Ligue 1 on Saturday with a 4-0 rout of new boys Arles-Avignon.
Only a few days before the start of hostilities in the Champions League, however, former kings Olympique Lyonnais and 2009 runners-up Auxerre were both held to 1-1 draws.
Having notched only one win in four games since the start of the season, PSG took full advantage of the visitors’ comparative lack in class to move up to sixth, albeit five points adrift of leaders Toulouse and ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
At a Parc des Princes that seemed to have been deliberately deserted by fans after a string of three consecutive defeats — two in the league and one in Europe — that leaked nine goals, PSG finally turned on the style against opponents that are still looking for direction in the top flight.
PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau opened the scoring in the 18th minute to claim his fifth goal in as many matches. Ten minutes later, defender Mamadou Sakho volleyed home from the left post after a corner by Brazilian Luis Nene.
Nene turned goalscorer himself 10 minutes after the restart with a superb free-kick and barely seven minutes later latched on to a pass from Mevlut Erding to grab his second of the game.
PSG coach Antoine Kombouare was happy with a result which he “did not expect to come so easily” and said his side must now continue in the same fashion.
“The players showed up and put everything into this result, now we have to build on this result and start to be far more consistent,” Kombouare said.
Lyon failed in their bid to leave their remarkably poor start to the season behind them as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Valenciennes.
The Stade de Gerland was waiting on the magic of Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez or new signing Yoann Gourcuff, but it was the aptly named striker Jeremy Pied who scored — although not with his foot — with his head in the 27th minute of his debut.
It was the only goal of the game for the hosts, who were stunned by a thundering header from defender Gaetan Bong in the 69th minute.
The only consolation for Lyon ahead of their Champions League clash at home to Schalke 04 in midweek is that the German outfit are faring almost as badly, with three games and three defeats.
Auxerre’s 1-1 draw at home to Stade Malherbe Caen was a bitter pill to swallow for manager Jean Fernandez, his side dropping points because of a stoppage-time leveler from Youssef El-Arabi after a 20th-minute opener by skipper Benoit Pedretti.
With one eye on their midweek challenge against AC Milan, Fernandez rested one of his main goalscorers, Ireneusz Jelen, but may now regret that decision after Auxerre slumped to 18th, still to win a game.
Elsewhere, Montpellier were beaten 2-1 at home by Nancy, Stade Rennais scored late to down Sochaux 2-1 and Saint-Etienne won 1-0 away at Toulouse.
In Saturday’s late game, visitors Lille punished derby rivals Lens 4-1 after the hosts had been reduced to nine men to move up to seventh. Lens are second from bottom.
Additional reporting by Staff Writer
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