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Marseille off to winning start
Published : 12 Aug 2012 22:46:52Rss feed
A Benoit Cheyrou goal 13 minutes from time handed Marseille a winning start to their French league season as they poached a 1-0 success at newly-promoted Reims.
Cheyrou's 77th-minute effort ensured that the only French side ever to land the European Cup went one better than reigning champions Montpellier and moneybags Paris Saint Germain, both held at home in their opening games - Montpellier by Toulouse and PSG by modest Lorient.
Reims - twice European Cup finalists in their 1950s heyday and also six times French champions but tasting top flight action for the first time in 33 years - gave as good as they got on their return to the big time before they were undone when Cheyrou volleyed home from a Charles Kabore cross.
"We hadn't started a league season with a win for a long time. It was a tough match but we pulled it over the line," said Cheyrou, whose side finished a bitterly disappointing tenth last season. "It's encouraging. We showed a lot of spirit and hopefully we can take things from there," he told reporters afterwards.
Kossi Agassa did his best in the Reims goal to give his side a chance of a point but Cheyrou's finish meant the club from the champagne region were left to reflect on what might have been against a Marseille side now under the stewardship of Elie Baup, who has replaced new France coach Didier Deschamps.
On Saturday, Paris Saint Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti praised two-goal new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his last-gasp penalty saved a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes against Lorient.
"Ibrahimovic turned in a fantastic shift," said former Milan and Chelsea boss Ancelotti - who nonetheless lamented the loss of two points on home turf.
"It's a bad point as we had no balance in the first half - the second half we were better and showed character. We have to work better as a unit," Ancelotti concluded.
Much is expected from PSG after they invested some 130 million euros in a bid to use a seemingly bottomless pit of cash provided by their Qatari investors to propel themselves towards a first league title in 19 years.
Next week, the culture clash continues between the haves and have-nots as PSG head to Ajaccio - whose season budget of 20 million euros is dwarfed by their own several times over.
Montpellier fluffed their own opening day lines as they were only able to manage a 1-1 draw at home to nine-man Toulouse on Friday.
Rene Girard's hosts lifted their first ever league title in May but then lost their league top scorer Olivier Giroud to Arsenal pre-season, resulting in a distinct lack of killer instinct.
Nigerian striker John Utaka sent Souleymane Camara clear for the hosts in the 34th minute and he clipped home - but instead of capitalising Montpellier found themselves pegged back 18 minutes from time when Wissam Ben Yedder headed home from a cross by Serge Aurier.
Toulouse were left hanging on grimly after they had Adrien Regattin and Serge Aurier sent off late on.
Montpellier had themselves played for almost an hour a man short after Tunisian star Jamel Saihi was red-carded.
"It's a rather timid return (to league action)," Girard noted.
Elsewhere, Yoann Gourcuff was on target as Lyon won 1-0 at Rennes while Bordeaux also won on their travels - 3-2 at modest Evian.
And 2011 champions Lille won 2-1 at former giants Saint Etienne courtesy of goals from Aurelien Chedjou and Benoit Pedretti.
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