Big guns back on track


PARIS, August 23 – Bordeaux and Marseille, league champions these past two seasons in France, put poor starts to this campaign behind them at the weekend as the southern outfits secured their first league win at the third time of asking.After Marseille defeated Lorient at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday, on Sunday it was Bordeaux’s turn to kick off the summer dust – though it took a goal five minutes into stoppage time from Michael Ziani to see off a stubborn Paris Saint German at the Parc des Princes.

After the Girondins ended seven years of Lyon title-winning hegemony under Laurent Blanc in 2008-2009, it appeared they would be going places – not least to the likes of the Nou Camp and Old Trafford for Champions League duels.

Instead, last season saw the south western outfit fall away badly after a fine start had suggested they would retain their status as top dogs.

Instead, Marseille secured their first crown in 18 seasons while Blanc compounded Bordeaux’s concerns as he departed for the French national job, replacing the hapless Raymond Domenech.

Former France international Jean Tigana, who led Monaco to the title 13 seasons ago before a spell with Fulham in England, is now in the hotseat – but after marking his arrival with two defeats questionmarks had arisen over his ability to halt the recent slide.

After a goalless opening period, Alou Diarra headed Bordeaux ahead midway through the second half, only for Ludovic Giuly to set up Guillaume Hoarau for a Parisian equaliser eight minutes later.

Paris, persistent under-achievers in the league over the past decade and a half, had begun the season brightly enough with a win and a draw but they were undone when Bordeaux played their ace card – possibly for the final time.

Tigana had left highly-rated playmaker Yoann Gourcuff on the bench to begin with but sent him on for the final quarter-hour and it was from his corner that Ciani headed past veteran PSG keeper Gregory Coupet.

Gourcuff, who joined Bordeaux in 2008 after a profitable two-year spell at AC Milan, told broadcaster Canal + that "we shall see" when asked if he might be on his way – possibly to Lyon.

With their win, Bordeaux move out of the drop zone as did Didier Deschamps’ Marseille after Gabriel Heinze and Nigerian Taye Taiwo saw off Lorient.

Lyon also got their first win under their belts with a Jean II Makoun goal edging out Brest at the Stade Gerland on Saturday.

Other Sunday action saw promoted Caen, who stunned Marseille away from home on the opening day and then saw off Lyon, settle for a point at likewise unbeaten Montpellier to leave the Normandy-based side two points adrift of early pace-setters Toulouse.

Toulouse secured their their third win in three games Saturday, beating promoted Arles 2-1 with Norwegian star Daniel Braaten netting his third goal of the season before Etienne Didot made it two ahead of Franck Dja Djedje’s consolation.

Also Sunday, Sochaux parted goalless with Lille.