France revels in best Ligue 1 match in a decade
France’s Ligue 1 cannot compare with England’s Premier League or Spain’s La Liga in terms of worldwide profile or star quality on the pitch but on Sunday Lyon and Marseille produced the sort of spectacular entertainment Chelsea v Manchester United just could not match.
I had not expected much from this match, which ended in a depressing goalless draw last season. Both teams had played in the Champions League earlier in the week — yes, there are French teams in that competition — and I suspected they would play conservatively, probably settling for draw.
If you look at my Predictions League ranking, you’ll see I’m not actually the bookies’ nemesis.
Lyon and Marseille did indeed draw, but not before scoring five goals each in probably the best Ligue 1 game since Marseille came back from four goals down to beat Montpellier 5-4 in the 1998-99 season.
Here is how it unfolded:
1-0 (3rd): Miralem Pjanic volleys home after a bad clearance by the Marseille defence
1-1 (11th): Souleymane Diawara heads home from a corner kick. The ball is deflected by Stephane M’Bia but the league hands the goal to Diawara.
2-1 (14th): Sidney Govou runs free in the Marseille half and beats Mandanda with a curling shot.
2-2 (44th): Benoît Cheyrou unleashes a 25-metre strike, Lloris fails to handle.
2-3 (47th): Ivory Coast striker Bakari Kone spins the ball past Lloris.
2-4 (80th): Brandao makes it four from close range
3-4 (81st): Lisandro Lopez flicks the ball past Mandanda after outpowering the Marseille defenders.
4-4 (84th): Lopez levels from the penalty spot after the referee stated Gabriel Heinze handed the ball in the box
5-4 (90th): Michel Bastos is set up by Pjanic and gives Lyon the edge
5-5 (90+3): Jeremy Toulalan inadvertently scores an own goal.
Classic drama, that prompts one question… How long has it been since you witnessed such a game in your league?
PHOTO: Olympique Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez (top) celebrates after scoring against Olympique Marseille during their French Ligue 1 soccer match at the Gerland stadium in Lyon, November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Pratta