Zlatan Ibrahimovic Hat-Trick and the Winners and Losers from Week 4 of Ligue 1

Andrew Gibney@@gibney_aFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2014

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Hat-Trick and the Winners and Losers from Week 4 of Ligue 1

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Week 4 was a bizarre weekend in Ligue 1. We had goals, penalties, red cards, hat-tricks, comebacks and some very interesting talking points, making it difficult to try and fit in all of this week's winners and losers.

    After Marseille kicked off the weekend with a stunning 4-0 win over Nice, the goals dried up on Saturday. Following Monaco and Lille's 1-1 draw in the early kick-off, the first half of Saturday's five-game multiplex only produced one goal.

    45 minutes later, Ligue 1 had exploded into action and we had a whopping 12 goals.

    Overall, the 10 games brought 29 goals—a great return from a pulsating weekend of action.

    Here are the winners and losers from Week 4 in Ligue 1.

Ibrahimovic Destroys Saint-Etienne with a Hat-Trick

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    He wasn’t even meant to be playing this weekend. When questioned about his fitness, he responded on Instagram by saying he definitely wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

    When he left the pitch at the Parc des Princes on the 73rd minute, the fans rose to their feet and gave Zlatan Ibrahimovic a standing ovation.

    His hat-trick, with goals in the 41st, 62nd and 72nd minute, helped Paris Saint-Germain to a fantastic 5-0 victory on Sunday night.

    3 – Anthony Bancarel was the last player to score a hat-trick in a Ligue 1 game v St Etienne, in April 1991, with Toulouse. Zlatan.

    — OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 31, 2014

    That now takes his tally to five for the season and makes him the outright top goal scorer in Ligue 1. Last season he wasn’t as quick out of the block; he only managed one league goal during August.

    He would finish the season with 26 league goals as PSG romped to the title. Now, he is on target to beat his personal record of 30 goals for the season.

    Once he returns to full fitness, the rest of the league needs to watch out.

Payet and Bielsa Inspire Marseille to Victory

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    Marseille kicked off the fourth week of Ligue 1 action with a pulsating home victory over Nice at the Stade Velodrome.

    After the disappointment of their 2-0 loss to Montpellier in their first home game, their 1-0 away win over Guingamp had given Marcelo Bielsa some breathing space. However, the stunning performance on Friday has lifted the doom and gloom from around the Mediterranean coast.

    Bielsa made a couple of tweaks to the defence. It looked more like a back four than the 3-3-3-1 he had tried in previous weeks. Alaixys Romao sat in front of the defence, which helped Gianelli Imbula join the attack and opened up some more space for Dimitri Payet, Andre Ayew and Florian Thauvin.

    Payet had a wonderful game. He scored twice and was in impressive form. His second goal, a diving header from Thauvin’s cross, was the pick of the goals.

    It was a team performance above all else. Everyone played their part, and it looks as if Bielsa’s methods and tactics are starting to sink in.

    Their defence will come up against bigger tests as the weeks go by, but if the attack plays as well as they did on Friday, they will trouble a lot of sides in this league.

Valentin Lavigne the New Star at Lorient

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    Few had heard of FC Lorient forward Valentin Lavigne before the start of the new season, but after four weeks, Les Merlus have a new hero to worship.

    Going into this season, Lavigne had yet to feature in the Lorient first-team. Seventy-four minutes of football later, he has three goals and helped his side to a 4-0 win on Saturday against Guingamp.

    17 - Valentin Lavigne has scored or assisted a goal every 17 minutes in Ligue 1 this season (3 goals + 1 assist in 69 mins). Sub.

    — OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 30, 2014

    The 20-year-old has yet to start a game this season, but he is now one of Ligue 1’s top goalscorers alongside the likes of Andre-Pierre Gignac and Mevlut Erding, only one behind Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and two behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    It is a wonderful story and is helping Lorient fans get over the loss of last season’s top scorer Vincent Aboubakar.

Toulouse and Rennes Leave It Late for Victory

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    Two sides picked up much-needed wins this weekend, with Rennes and Toulouse leaving it late against Caen and Evian respectively.

    Rennes were being held by a resolute Caen side, but a late penalty decision gave Swedish striker Ola Toivonen the chance to seal the three points. The No. 9 was cool and calm and slotted the penalty home.

    Down in Toulouse, it was a similar story for Alain Casanova’s men. Evian were holding firm, just like they did against PSG last Friday, before Le Tefece won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.

    Midfielder Adrien Regattin stood over the dead ball, and with the combination of power, swerve and accuracy, he curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner. It was a goal worthy of winning any game.

    The 1-0 win was Toulouse’s second of the season and keeps their 100 per cent home record alive.

Misery Continues for Lyon This Season

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    Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse for Olympique Lyonnais this season, they went and lost another league game this weekend.

    Three defeats in four Ligue 1 games is the worst start to a season in the club's history. Lyon look light years away from the club that won seven consecutive league titles between 2001 and 2008.

    3 - Lyon have lost 3 of their first 4 Ligue 1 games for the first time in their history. Cycle.

    — OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 31, 2014

    Hubert Fournier may be limited with the players he can choose due to the huge injury list that Lyon have at the moment, but it doesn’t excuse the nature of the defeats.

    According to WhoScored.com, Lyon had 60 per cent possession and 17 shots on goal, but they could only get past FC Metz ‘keeper once before the home side made a comeback.

    Yeni Ngbakoto’s 82nd-minute penalty levelled the scores before Venezuelan striker Juan Manuel Falcon, a second-half substitute, headed in Kevin Lejeune’s cross to hand Metz their first win of the season.

    The result leaves Lyon, who have also been knocked out of the Europa League, sitting 17th in the Ligue 1 table. There are now huge question marks over the ability of new coach Fournier to lead this team into a new era of success.

    It is definitely a new era in Lyon, but it is certainly not the one that Jean-Michel Aulas envisioned for Les Gones.

Bordeaux Fail to Keep Up the 100 Per Cent Record

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    Bordeaux were looking to hold on to the only 100 per cent record in Ligue 1 this weekend, but their visitors, Bastia, had other ideas as to how their matchup on Sunday afternoon was going to play out.

    The away side took the lead through striker Junior Tallo and did their best to defend the single-goal lead, and they very nearly got away with it.

    After 77 minutes, however, the game changed. Floyd Ayite thought he had given his side a 2-0 lead, but after rounding Cedric Carrasso, his shot was played onto the bar by the hand of defender Nicolas Pallois.

    It should have been a penalty, but because the speed of the move and the angle of the players, it was impossible for the officials to see the incident and call it properly.

    Only seconds later, Bordeaux forward Diego Rolan chested the ball down expertly before firing past Alphonse Areola to level the scores.

    Bordeaux remain unbeaten, while Bastia will rue the missed chance of picking up a vital away win, and the manner of the draw will upset boss Claude Makelele more than the result itself.

Monaco Dealt Biggest Blow as Falcao Looks to Depart

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The biggest losers this weekend have to be AS Monaco. Just as they were getting ready to take on Lille at the Stade Louis II on Saturday afternoon, Radamel Falcao was removed from the playing squad after being named on the bench.

    The Colombian forward has been linked with a move away from the club all summer, and following an afternoon spent sat beside agent Jorge Mendes and Monaco’s sporting director Vadim Vasilyev, a move before Monday’s transfer deadline seems very likely.

    The Manchester City rumour broke on Saturday before the game, reported by Jamie Jackson of The Guardian. Real Madrid has been linked the most, but Bleacher Report’s Guillem Balague reported on Saturday that the Spanish club had denied interest. 

    Real Madrid deny they want Falcao. So do Manchester City. Jorge Mendes pushing the deal (maybe that explains the tweet??)

    — Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 30, 2014

    It now looks inevitable that Monaco are going to lose their €64 million striker to Manchester United, per BBC Sport, after just 12 months.

    Losing the player on transfer deadline day would leave it too late to bring in reinforcements, and Falcao’s exit would put a huge doubt over any chances of Monaco challenging for the title this season. Even finishing in the top three looks like a challenge with the way Leandro Jardim’s team are playing at the moment.

    Monaco managed to come back from a goal down at home to Lille on Saturday, Dimitar Berbatov getting the goal. Though Monaco may have earned a point, four points in four games is not the sort of start the Monegasque side were looking for this season.