Olympique de Marseille humbled newly promoted En Avant de Guingamp 3-1 in Ligue 1 on Sunday, with new signing Dimitri Payet scoring twice on his debut.
It was a dismal return to the top flight for Guingamp, who finished runners-up to AS Monaco in Ligue 2 last season, as they found themselves 3-0 down after a quarter of an hour following several defensive mistakes.
Andre-Pierre Gignac scored an early opener for Marseille, before a swift brace for Payet, who was signed from Ligue 1 rivals LOSC Lille Metropole in the off-season.
Guingamp had a chance to get back into the game early in the second half, but Mustapha Yatabare saw his penalty saved after Souleymane Diawara was harshly adjudged to have fouled Steeven Langil.
However, Marseille were eventually made to pay for their frailty in defense — which will be of concern to coach Elie Baup — when Yatabare scored in the 74th minute.
Earlier on Sunday, AS Saint-Etienne strolled to a 1-0 win at AC Ajaccio as Fabrizio Ravanelli’s first match in charge of the Corsican side ended in disappointment.
“We did very well in the first half, we could have even scored a fourth or a fifth goal,” Baup said. “Then it became more difficult and we left a lot of open spaces for our opponents. There are a lot of things to correct, but it’s good to have started by scoring three goals.”
“It’s normal, it’s only the first match, there’s a lot of work to be done, but I saw good things in our attacking approach and the way we kept the ball. There’s quite a few things to correct in defense, but everything’s going well. As long as there are goals, it’s good. We had chances, goals. Everyone’s finding their feet again,” he said.
Marseille, who finished runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain last season, got off to a perfect start when they was gifted the lead in the second minute.
Andre Ayew’s shot was parried by Guingamp goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa, but it went straight to the feet of Gignac, who drilled the ball into the empty net.
The visitors doubled their lead less than two minute later, with Payet slotting into the bottom-left corner after Guingamp midfielder Christophe Kerbrat failed to deal with Ayew’s cross.
Payet grabbed his second of the game in the 16th minute. Benjamin Mendy’s cross eluded everyone and went out to Mathieu Valbuena on the far right of the penalty area. Samassa parried his shot, but the defense failed to clear the ball and Payet bundled it in.
Guingamp — who are back in the top flight after a nine-year absence — had the ball in the back of the net shortly before halftime, but Langil’s header was ruled out for offside.
However, the hosts had started to pose more of a threat and they were awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute, but Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda dived smartly to his right to keep out Yatabare’s spot-kick.
Marseille were looking vulnerable at the back and another mistake allowed Guingamp to score. Reynald Lemaitre dispossessed Nicolas N’Koulou on the edge of the area and crossed for Yatabare — the top scorer in the second tier last year — to tap home.
In Corsica, both Saint-Etienne and Ajaccio struggled to carve out opportunities in searing heat.
The match was halted at the midway point in each half to allow players to rehydrate.
Brandao scored in the 34th minute after Romain Hamouma rolled the ball across the face of goal from the right flank and the Brazilian striker slotted into an empty net.
Ajaccio midfielder Benjamin Andre was sent off in stoppage-time for a second booking.
It was only the second time Saint-Etienne have won their opening league match of the season since 1992. It was also the first time they have won at Ajaccio in 33 years.