Marseillaise rings out in Corsica as Caen held
BASTIA: ‘La Marseillaise’ rang out in Bastia yesterday ahead of the muchanticipated Corsican Ligue 1 derby won 2-1 by Gazelec-Ajaccio as Caen missed the chance to go second behind Paris Saint-Germain following a goalless draw against Angers.
Tightened security checks were in place throughout France, just over a week after terrorist attacks in Paris and the Stade de France left 130 people dead and more than 350 injured.
And despite threats by Corsican nationalists to boo the French national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’ was sang with gusto at the Armand Cesari Stadium in Bastia in tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.
The club’s leading supporters group Bastia 1905 announced prior to the game that they would not enter the stadium until after the national anthem.
Only one solitary whistle could be heard in the stands during the rendition, before the Corsican chant “Diu vi salvi Regina” was sung and followed by the release of 130 white balloons, and a blue one for a club official who died the day before the attacks.
“The silence as the players walked out gave me the chills,” said Ajaccio coach Thierry Laurey. “I would say that the best response has been given,” added Bastia coach Ghislain Printant. In a match which had been postponed from Saturday because of strong winds in the Mediterranean island, Brandao opened for the hosts after five minutes following good work by midfielder Julian Palmieri.
But 14 minutes later Cameroon international striker Jacques Zoua got the visitors on level terms, slotting home a penalty awarded when Bastia goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca fouled Khalid Boutaib in the box.
Boutaib missed a golden chance to put the visitors ahead with half an hour to go but alone on front of goal it was Leca who won the duel. Ten minutes later Boutaib made no mistake volleying in following a pinpoint David Ducourtioux headed cross.
The win away lifts Ajaccio out of the relegation zone with neighbours Bastia taking their place. In Normandy, Caen were down to ten men after half and hour after Alaeddine Yahia was given a straight red card for a dangerous tackle.
A win would have seen Caen move second behind PSG, who stretched their lead to 13 points on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Lorient. “It’s a good point given the game,” said Caen coach Patrice Garande.
“Until the sending off we’d gotten off to a bright start and things were looking good for the match.” Caen are now third, equal on 25 points with Lyon, who lost 30 to Nice on Friday, and are ahead on goal difference. Angers are sitting fifth.
Marseille travel to Saint-Etienne later as Rennes host Bordeaux. —AFP WEST BROMWICH: Arsene Wenger described Arsenal’s 21 defeat at West Bromwich Albion as the “perfect nightmare” after midfielders Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta added to his injury problems.
Arteta’s own goal, coupled with a late penalty miss by Santi Cazorla, ended the Gunners’ six-match unbeaten Premier League run and dented their title challenge. And Gunners boss Wenger, already without Alex OxladeChamberlain, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck, suffered further setbacks as he lost Coquelin to a knee problem and Arteta to a recurrence of a calf injury.
Both players will be assessed and are doubts for Tuesday’s Champions League home match against Dinamo Zagreb, which Arsenal must win to stand any chance of staying in the competition.
“It was a very bad afternoon for us. We had 70 per cent possession, we scored an own goal, we missed a penalty, we gave away a goal from a set piece. That’s perfect to make the afternoon a nightmare,” Wenger said.
“We missed open goal chances too. I believe that West Brom fought with 100 per cent commitment as well. You have to give them credit for that. “We landed a huge blow when we scored. We just had to make sure that they didn’t come back with an easy goal.
“We lost a bit of focus at 1-0. After 35 minutes, we were 1-0 up. After 45 minutes, we were 2-1 down. Our defending on that level was very, very poor. “On top of that, we have two more injuries. One is a recurrence of a calf problem for Arteta, one is a knee problem for Coquelin. I don’t know how severe that is. We’ll know tomorrow.” Wenger refused to blame Cazorla for his missed penalty, which came amid confusion, as it initially appeared as though referee Mark Clattenburg had ordered a retake for encroachment.
As it turned out, Clattenburg had penalised the midfielder for taking two touches as he slipped; with the rules not allowing a penalty taker to touch the ball again until another player has done so.
Arsenal were consigned to defeat despite an early goal from Olivier Giroud who, like France team-mate Laurent Koscielny, played eight days after being caught up in the horrific Paris attacks.
Giroud and Koscielny were playing for France in a friendly against Germany at the Stade de France, which was targeted by three attackers who blew themselves up outside the stadium, with the explosions heard during the match. Wenger said that he had no doubts about fielding either player, citing their professionalism. “They were highly focused and had a desire to play,” Wenger said. “We produced enough to win the game. I don’t know about the influence of what happened (in Paris) on the game.
“For my part, I would not explain our defeat by that. I think it’s sad. We are all down. But when you’re on the pitch, you’re on the pitch.” West Brom manager Tony Pulis, whose side drew level through James Morrison before Arteta’s own goal, acknowledged that his players had gained victory despite not being at their best.—AFP
CAEN: Caen’s French forward Andy Delort (R) vies for the ball with Angers’ French defender Yoann Andreu during the French L1 football match between Caen (SM Caen) and Angers (SCO Angers), yesterday, at the Michel d’Ornano stadium, in Caen, northwestern France. — AFP