French leader Marseille won 1-0 away to Nancy on Sunday to maintain its perfect start to the season, with forward Jordan Ayew scoring in the second half after heading in a pass from his older brother.
Marseille, which was in disarray at the end of last season and sold two key players in the summer, totally dominated as it recorded a fifth straight win to stay two points clear of second-place Lyon.
”There’s a lot of determination in our squad, we’re all working for one another,” coach Elie Baup said. ”I think the victory is deserved, we should have been two or three goals up at halftime.”
Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac had four chances to score in the first half, but was denied three times because of fine saves by goalkeeper Guy Ndy Assembe.
”To go into the break at 0-0 was a miracle,” Nancy defender Sebastien Puygrenier said. ”They are really good, and Gignac is unstoppable at the moment.”
Marseille got a deserved breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Ayew met a cross from Andre Ayew, and his bullet header gave Ndy Assembe no chance.
”We really played well as a unit and there is a real team spirit in this team,” Jordan Ayew said.
Although Marseille was in total control, goalie Steve Mandanda made a great save in the 61st to keep out Yohan Mollo’s curling free kick.
Earlier, Lyon kept the pressure on Marseille after beating Ajaccio 2-0 on Sunday, thanks to goals from center half Dejan Lovren and striker Lisandro Lopez.
Lyon took the lead in the 25th when Lovren rose above goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and headed home Clement Grenier’s corner.
”Thirteen points out of 15 is good, even though three of our games have been at home,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said. ”We had an awful lot of possession and it was difficult to get the ball in behind a massed defence of a team.”
Lyon’s next two matches, against Bordeaux and Lille, will offer a bigger test of the club’s title credentials.
Ochoa then kept Ajaccio in the game, saving Grenier’s clever chip and making a brilliant point-blank stop from striker Bafetimbi Gomis’ diving header.
But after midfielder Ricardo Faty hit the post for Ajaccio, the visitors fell further behind in the 74th when Lopez ran onto veteran midfielder Steed Malbranque’s pass and hit a low shot that gave Ochoa no chance.
Romania forward Adrian Mutu, who joined Ajaccio from Cesena, made his debut for the Corsican side and was soon booked for a reckless challenge on Malbranque.
”Mutu came on and did what I expected of him,” Ajaccio coach Alex Dupont said. ”He’s an asset for this side and will give us options.”
Lorient held on with nine players to win 2-1 at Rennes and climbed up to third place.
Lorient had a player sent off in each half, but withstood late pressure from Rennes as Alain Traore scored two superb goals.
Traore gave Lorient the lead in the 23rd minute when Rennes lost the ball outside the penalty area, and he curled it over the head of goalkeeper Benoit Costil from 25 meters.
He again gave Costil no chance with a thumping free kick 30 meters out into the top corner shortly before halftime.
”Traore scored two goals that were out of this world,” Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti said. ”But we could have come back into the game if we’d played more simply.”
Rennes, which was a contender for a Europa League spot last season, has already lost four games and is now in the relegation zone.
”We’re deep in trouble, I didn’t think our season would start in such a difficult way,” Antonetti said.
Right back Maxime Baca and goalkeeper Fabien Audard were sent off, both for fouls on Jonathan Pitroipa, who pulled a goal back in the 71st.