« Assured conduct » confirmed Gérard Houllier, who, having passed the bar of 40 points last season, has just turned in another fine performance. In fact the PSG version of the record in 1985 consisted of 13 victories and three draws in the first 16 matches.
Today, in the brought-forward round 16 match, the coach of OL broke his own record against Le Mans. With 43 points (14 wins, one draw and one loss) the record also belongs to the players, Houllier said, recently awarded the trophy in the « Coaches Cup».
The history between the clubs is short and leans in favour of the men from Lyon, who have won twice at the Stade Léon Bollée, where the team from Le Mans have ground out 6 nil-all draws in their last six games. OL on the other hand has a recent record of seven victories from eight games.
« Fearing nothing»… or perhaps with « nothing to lose », MUC72, reputedly a team that likes to play, found it very difficult to trouble Grégory Coupet.
Romaric took his chance but couldn’t get his shot on target. This was Le Mans’ only opportunity in the first half, due to the ubiquity of Cris and Squillaci, who put in a flawless performance to rack up 180 minutes without conceding. Their counterparts from Le Mans, Cerdan and Basa, were also busy, repelling most of the OL attacks, including Wiltord (10’ ; 15’ ; 29’) and Malouda (27’). Wiltord missed the unmissable in failing to get Eric Abidal’s perfect centre on target from 5 metres out; or found Pelé, whose aim failed him from the edge of the area, in his way.
The end of the first half came to life when Pelé . back from a broken toe, shone ahead of Jon Carew. A fine control, followed by a shot from a clever pass by Tiago , then a fine header from Juninho corner. Carew made Pelé the hero of the first half. The Le Mans keeper kept home fears quelled with two exceptional saves.
Nino confirmed his strong start despite not scoring in the first half. His efforts were rewarded when Juninho sent a free kick into the area. The ball glanced off the head of Nino, the man spearheading the Lyon attack since Carew’s replacement by Govou a few seconds earlier, leaving Pelé with nothing to do. (57’ ; 0-1).
Le Mans hung on tenaciously but Coupet put paid to the attacking intent of Bangoura (64’), Graphite (61’) and Sessegnon (87’)
OL handed Le Mans its first defeat of the season at the Stade Léon Bollée takes a provisional 17-point lead over its nearest rivals (Lille, Lens et Sochaux). A huge lead, larger in fact than the gap between Lyon and Bordeaux (2nd) after 38 rounds last season. Hats off, gentlemen!