Ligue 1: Marseille top as PSG grab first win

There was relief for PSG coach Laurent Blanc on Sunday as he saw his team notch up their first league win of the season, beating Nantes 2-1 away from home. Marseille lead the way in Ligue 1 after a late win over Valenciennes on Saturday.

Ligue 1: Marseille top as PSG grab first win
Lavezzi celebrates after scoring the winner for PSG against Nantes. Photo: Frank Perry/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain recorded their first win of the French Ligue 1 season on Sunday, beating promoted Nantes 2-1 at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

When Edinson Cavani gave PSG a 24th-minute lead, it looked set to be a long night for their hosts, but they held on and equalised eight minutes into the second half when a Jordan Veretout free-kick was turned into his own net by Alex at the back post.

However, Ezequiel Lavezzi got what proved to be the winner in the 74th minute, firing home the loose ball after a Lucas effort had been blocked on the line by Gabriel Cichero.

With his choice of a 4-4-2 formation coming in for some criticism after the defending champions were held by Montpellier and then Ajaccio in their opening two games, PSG coach Laurent Blanc opted for a three-man attack here, with 

Lavezzi brought back in alongside Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"We could go back to the 4-4-2 but also (try out) other systems. We need to find a system which gives us balance," said Blanc.

"We have an attacking potential that many other clubs envy but we mustn't forget that to win a match we have to defend well."

Even against a five-man Nantes defence, PSG threatened to run riot in the early stages, with home goalkeeper Remy Riou racing off his line to deny Ibrahimovic before Cavani's first-time half-volley flashed just wide

midway through the first half.

Shortly after, Ibrahimovic and Cavani combined for the opening goal, with the latter racing on to the Swede's pass before firing low past Riou.

Yet the visitors could not build on that and only a fine Salvatore Sirigu save prevented Cichero from equalising for Nantes from an overhead kick justbefore the break.

The hosts did draw level soon after the restart when the unfortunate Alex, under pressure from Papy Djilobodji, saw a Jordan Veretout free-kick rebound off him and into the net at the back post.

Sirigu then had to save well to keep out a net-bound Alejandro Bedoya header, but PSG silenced the 37,000 crowd when Lavezzi scored what proved to be the winner.

Earlier on an attritional weekend in France's top flight, Nice were held to a goalless draw by Ajaccio in Corsica, while Saint-Etienne dropped their first points of the league campaign, going down 1-0 away to a young Lille side.

Salomon Kalou scored the only goal from the penalty spot to deny Les Verts the chance to move level at the top of the table with leaders Marseille.

"Saint-Etienne are a team who often pose us problems," acknowledged Kalou, mindful that it was they who pipped Lille to a European place at the end of last season, having also knocked them out of both domestic cup competitions.

Marseille end the weekend two points clear of Monaco at the summit after maintaining their perfect start to the season with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Valenciennes, Andre-Pierre Gignac netting a late winner.

Monaco drew 0-0 at home to Toulouse on Friday in a game played behind closed doors at the Stade Louis II as a punishment for crowd trouble at the end of last season.

Claudio Ranieri's side now travel to face Marseille in a top-of-the-table clash at the Stade Velodrome next Sunday.

In contrast to Marseille, Lyon's perfect start to the campaign was ended in a 1-0 home defeat to Reims, as Odair Fortes's deflected effort gave the visitors the points after Clement Grenier had missed a penalty for the hosts in a second half delayed for 35 minutes because of torrential rain at the Stade de Gerland.

That result came four days after Lyon's chances of making the Champions League group stage were severely compromised by a 2-0 home defeat to Real aSociedad in the first leg of their play-off.

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IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.