Paris Saint Germain stood alone among the so-called giants of the French football league 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 Lyon and 2009 runners-up Auxerre were both held to 1-1 draws.
Having notched up 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.
In a Parc des Princes stadium 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 a side that is still looking for direction amongst 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 from 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 begin to has called on his side to 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.”
Lyon failed in their bid to leave their remarkably poor start to the season behind them being held to a 1-1 draw by Valenciennes.
The Stade Gerland was waiting on the magic of Argentinian 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 elite 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 against Schalke in midweek is that the German outfit are faring almost as bad, with three games and three defeats.
“We didn’t play so badly, but when you’re leading 1-0 in football you’re always at the mercy of an equaliser,” lamented Gourcuff.
“We’re disappointed, but we have to think positively.”
Auxerre’s 1-1 draw at home to Caen was even bitter pill to swallow for manager Jean Fernandez, the Burgundy side dropping points due to an injury time leveller from Youssef El-Arabi having been surfing on 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, for the match but may now regret that decision after Auxerre slumped to 18th, still to win a game.
On Sunday Marseille could move up to within sight of the top seven if they beat Monaco and wipe from memory the two straight defeats they have suffered.
Marseille are also in action in midweek against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.
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