Champions Marseille slump as PSG ride high

PARIS, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) - French champions Marseille slumped to a shock defeat to newcomers Caen as Paris Saint Germain got off to a flying start to sit top of Ligue 1 after the first day of the season on Saturday.

Marseille landed their first title success since 1992 last term but Didier Deschamps' side were reeling after falling 2-1 at home to the Normandy side.

Caen's Youssef El Arabi (C) celebrates at the end of the match Marseille versus Caen. AFP

Lyon, last season's runners-up, also failed to sparkle as they were held to a goalless draw at home to Monaco, as Auxerre, third last time out, were held 2-2 at home by Lorient.

By contrast Paris Saint Germain came through 3-1 winners against visiting St Etienne to give the side from the capital hope of success after a poor 2009/2010 campaign.

Marseille were a shadow of the side that won the Ligue 1 last season, with Ligue 2 winners Caen looking the more dangerous as Nicolas Seube gave them the lead after 53 minutes at the Stade Velodrome.

Deschamps made two quick substitutions with Mamadou Samassa coming on for Andre Ayew and Hatem Ben Arfa replacing Mathieu Valbuena, and the strategy initially paid off with Samassa equalising after 77 minutes.

But the points slipped through their fingers when Youssef El Arabi fired in through the legs of goalkeeper Steve Mandanda four minutes from time.

"Caen did what they had to do," said Deschamps, whose pre-season preparations had been hampered by top scorer Mamadou Niang's desire to leave for Fenerbahce.

"We tried to prepare the best way, but a lot of the players are not at the same level. There are also things happening off the pitch, but this is not an excuse."

PSG, 13th last season after going six matches without a win at the end of the campaign, achieved their first success in the opening match of the season since 2005.

The French Cup winners hit the ground running against St Etienne, who finished 17th last season.

Not even a half-empty stadium, rain and pre-match clashes between police and fans which resulted in 246 arrests could dampen Parisian spirits as Mevlut Erding netted the first goal of the season after just five minutes.

The Turkish striker picked up a cross from Guillaume Hoarau to fire in between the legs of Jeremie Janot in the St Etienne goal.

St Etienne missed a chance to equalise after 25 minutes when Bakary Sako found himself alone on front of Gregory Coupet but the PSG goalie proved up to the task.

Dimitri Payet grabbed the equaliser after 39 minutes, only for Stephane Sessegnon to put the hosts ahead again three minutes later with an acrobatic shot which hit the post before grazing Janot's arm to finish in the back of the net.

The hosts dominated the second half with Brazilian striker Nene opening his account for PSG after 82 minutes, condemning St Etienne to defeat for their 19th consecutive season opener.

Elsewhere, Nancy won 2-1 at Lens, Rennes were held 1-1 by visiting Lille as promoted Arles and Brest fell to Sochaux (2-1) and Toulouse (2-0) respectively.

Bordeaux, having lost coach Laurent Blanc, who led them to the championship in 2009, to the France national job, will under Jean Tigana travel to Montpellier on Sunday.

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