Brest in Dreamland After Stormy Weekend

Image: Ouest-France

Le Figaro in English, 01/11/2010

[FOOTBALL] – They may have had the torrential rain in the south of France to thank for it, but today the top spot in Ligue 1 is occupied by a name few could have predicted. A 2-0 victory over fourth place St Etienne, coupled with the cancellation of Marseilles v Rennes on Sunday due to a washout, meant that Stade Brestois 29, a team who ten years ago were floundering in the Championnat de France Amateur, the French 4th division, are two points clear at the summit. These are dizzying times at the Stade Francis-Le Blé.

“This is a great surprise,” said Brest coach Alex Dupont, who only last season led Les Ti-Zefs to promotion back to Ligue 1 for the first time since 1991, when they were relegated after filing for bankruptcy. Then followed a spectacular drop through the divisions. “The players amaze me with every match by their quality. We saw a wonderful match this evening with a second half where we gave nothing away. Our place in the standings at this time of the season can no longer be considered luck. We’re on the right track and deserved this victory.”

Deserved it they did. They’ve now gone 8 games without conceding a goal, and on Saturday even managed to keep out the league’s top-scorer in St Etienne’s Dimitri Payet. Their goalkeeper Steeve Elana is now unbeaten in 791 minutes of football, the fifth best record in the history of Ligue 1. Against St Etienne it was goals from Mario Licka and a sublime Romain Poyet chip that secured the three points and the headlines, at least for one week.

Lyon were the weekend’s other big movers, jumping 6 places to eight following a scrappy 2-1 win at home to Sochaux. Ideye Brown had cancelled out Michel Bastos’ initial strike for the hosts, but 19 year old Alexandre Lacazette’s calm finish late on helped to ease some of the growing pressure on coach Claude Puel.

Paris St-Germain’s stuttering season continued as they could only manage a 1-1 draw away at Montpellier. The ever-green Ludovic Giuly put Les Parisiens ahead, adding to his mid-week strike against Lyon in the Coupe de la Ligue. But Chilean midfielder Marcos Estrada equalised before the break with a fine left-foot strike. Rumoured Stoke-target Guillaume Hoarau crashed a header off the up-right in the second half, and Nene looked threatening throughout, but PSG remain in seventh, five points off the pace.

Elsewhere Toulouse lost ground after being held 1-1 by lowly Lens, and Lille’s indifferent form continued, only managing a 1-1 draw away to Valenciennes. Auxerre and Lorient both took big strides away from the drop-zone with wins against Nice and Arles respectively, while Nancy edged out Caen 3-2 thanks to a Bakaye Traore winner.

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