Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 2-0 win against Corsican minnows Gazelec Ajaccio to maintain their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season on Sunday after Olympique de Marseille slumped to another defeat.
A stunning Blaise Matuidi strike and a Thiago Silva header, both in the first half, put PSG out of sight against newly promoted Gazelec at the Parc des Princes and left Laurent Blanc’s side with six points from a possible six at the start of the new campaign.
Argentina winger Angel di Maria, the 63 million euro (US$68.93 million) signing from Manchester United, was introduced to the Paris fans before kick-off, although he was not yet fit enough to make his debut.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic again sidelined, PSG were not at full strength, as 18-year-old forward Jean-Kevin Augustin was handed a first start in the top flight.
However, this was always likely to be a trying night for Gazelec, a club whose overall budget for their debut season at the top level barely equates to Ibrahimovic’s annual salary at the Parc des Princes.
It always seemed a question of when, not if, Paris would open the scoring and they duly did so in the 11th minute thanks to Matuidi, the France midfielder taking the ball into the box and then sending a fizzing left-foot drive high into the net from a tightening angle.
PSG added their second goal just before the midway point in the first half, captain Silva putting the disappointment of being dropped from the Brazil squad last week behind him as he headed home from a Thiago Motta corner.
At that point it looked like turning into a rout, but Edinson Cavani failed to convert several openings in the second half and Serge Aurier headed a great chance wide.
David Luiz was denied by a brilliant Clement Maury save as the hosts settled for a win that leaves them, ominously, already in top spot on goal difference.
Earlier on Sunday, Marseille slumped to a second defeat in as many games, a first-half strike by Hamari Traore giving Stade de Reims all three points in a 1-0 win in Champagne country.
Marseille, still reeling from the shock resignation of coach Marcelo Bielsa following their opening 1-0 defeat to Stade Malherbe Caen, never really looked like scoring and find themselves in the relegation zone in the fledgling standings.
Bielsa’s former assistant Franck Passi took charge of the away side in Reims but he insisted the Argentine’s departure could not be used as an excuse for a disappointing display.
“We have to stop talking about trauma! We’ve put last weekend [Bielsa’s resignation] behind us,” Passi said. “We mustn’t hide behind that excuse. But it’s clear that it will not be easy and it will take time to find a solution.”
In contrast with Marseille, it has been a great start to the season for Reims, who had already beaten Girondins de Bordeaux on the opening weekend.
Sunday’s other match saw Lorient scramble a 1-1 draw at home to SC Bastia thanks to a stoppage-time Benjamin Moukandjo penalty, which canceled out Floyd Ayite’s early opener.
Mathieu Valbuena made his Olympique Lyonnais debut in a 1-0 win at En Avant de Guingamp on Saturday as Claudio Beauvue netted the only goal of the game against his old club.
Stade Rennais and Caen were the weekend’s other winners, while Monaco warmed up for their Champions League play-off first leg away to Valencia in midweek by drawing 0-0 at home to Lille on Friday.
It was a trying night for the principality club, who lost influential midfielder Joao Moutinho to an ankle injury that is set to keep him out for up to six weeks.
Bundesliga runner-up VfL Wolfsburg started their new German league campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt and Japan striker Yuya Osako sealed a 3-1 victory for Cologne at VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.
Osako struck in the second minute of injury time, set up by Anthony Modeste on a counterattack as Stuttgart pushed for an equalizer.
Modeste opened the scoring late with a penalty in the 75th after he was brought down by Stuttgart ’keeper Przemyslaw Tyton. Cologne substitute Simon Zoller made it 2-0 two minutes later, two minutes before he gave away a penalty for a foul on Filip Kostic.
Daniel Didavi duly pulled one back from the spot to set up an exciting finale only for Osako to kill any hopes of a draw.
Didavi hit the crossbar early on and Stuttgart had the better chances until Tyton gave away the first penalty.
In the early game, Wolfsburg midfielder Ivan Perisic opened the scoring with a header from Max Kruse’s cross in the 13th and Bas Dost made it 2-0 from close range four minutes later.
Two minutes later, former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Stefan Reinartz scored what proved to be Frankfurt’s consolation on his league debut for the side.
“Wolfsburg have a lot of quality but we didn’t give much away,” Frankfurt coach Armin Veh said after his first Bundesliga match back in charge. Veh previously coached the side for three seasons between 2011 and last year.
Tempers frayed briefly at the end of the first half after Kevin de Bruyne was taken down by Frankfurt defender Carlos Zambrano. De Bruyne, reportedly a transfer target for a host of clubs, reacted angrily and pushed the Peruvian in response. Both players were booked.
Wolfsburg ’keeper Koen Casteels did well to deny 19-year-old Frankfurt substitute Joel Gerezgiher a late equalizer.
“We analyzed the opponent and tried to find room in which to hurt them,” Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking said. “That’s why Kevin de Bruyne was on the wing in the first half. It was an average performance from him. We should allow him that. He tried a lot.”
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