Defending champions LOSC Lille Metropole belatedly secured their first win of the Ligue 1 season with a 2-1 success at Stade Malherbe Caen on Saturday, while 10-man Olympique Lyonnais were brought down to earth by Stade Brestois 29.
League and French Cup winners in May, Lille drew their opening game of the new campaign 1-1 at Nancy, before losing 1-0 at Montpellier, and their luck did not appear to have changed in the first half at Caen.
A first-choice Lille dominated proceedings, but they were denied by the woodwork on three occasions, with Florent Balmont, Dimitri Payet and Eden Hazard all thwarted by the frame of the goal.
The breakthrough finally came in the 68th minute, with Hazard the instigator as he was so often last season.
The Belgian winger skipped into the Caen penalty area on the left-hand side, before rolling in a low center that Benoit Pedretti touched home to claim his first Lille goal since his summer move from AJ Auxerre.
Rightback Mathieu Debuchy doubled the lead in the 88th minute, before Benjamin Nivet pulled a goal back with a stoppage-time penalty.
Nivet could even have stolen a point for Caen at the death, but his close-range header was repelled by an extraordinary reflex save from Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.
“I’m not relieved, because it was bound to come,” said Lille coach Rudi Garcia, whose side host Olympique de Marseille at the weekend. “We’ve now had three performances, even four with the Champions Trophy [a 5-4 loss to Marseille], where we’ve been pretty good in terms of our play and we deserved to win. The difference tonight was that we were able to force the issue.”
Lyon went into their match at Brest buoyed by a fine performance in their 3-1 Champions League playoff first-leg win at home to Rubin Kazan on Tuesday, but they were quickly shaken out of their stride at Stade Francis-Le Ble.
Brest winger Benoit Lesoimier put the hosts ahead in the 12th minute, turning away from two defenders and unleashing a rising, left-footed drive that Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could only help into the net.
Miralem Pjanic, one of three changes to the side that beat Kazan, tested Brest goalkeeper Steeve Elana with a swerving drive shortly after halftime, but OL’s cause then received a setback when Sidy Kone was sent off.
The 19-year-old Malian midfielder, making his first Ligue 1 appearance, was shown a straight red card for an ugly two-footed lunge at Brest striker Nolan Roux.
However, Lyon continued to press and after Lisandro Lopez had headed just wide from substitute Michel Bastos’ cross, Bafetimbi Gomis claimed the leveler with a low effort into the bottom-right corner.
“We saw an OL with two faces,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said. “In the first half, we even came close to [conceding] a second goal. In the second 45 minutes, we had a good reaction. Brest started to drop deep and we created some dangerous situations.”
Toulouse held on to the league lead after claiming a 1-1 draw at OGC Nice thanks to a stunning last-minute equalizer by Adrien Regattin.
The 19-year-old substitute dispatched a sublime overhead-kick from just inside the box, after Anthony Mounier had breached the Toulouse defense for the first time this season to give the hosts a 31st-minute lead.
In the day’s other games, Girondins de Bordeaux drew 1-1 at home to AJ Auxerre and Dijon FCO overcame the 42nd-minute dismissal of captain Abdoulaye Meite to claim their first victory since securing promotion with a 2-0 win at home to Lorient.
Saturday’s late game ended in a bad-tempered 1-1 draw between newly promoted pair AC Ajaccio and Evian Thonon Gaillard.
Substitute Kevin Berigaud earned visitors Evian a share of the spoils with a goal in the 75th minute after Frederic Sammaritano had put the hosts in front in the seventh minute.
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