Eight members of Toulouse’s starting lineup had never played in Ligue 1, and they were offered an early display of the quality required, as Amine Gouiri’s strike at the end of a flowing Nice move fizzed agonisingly past the post. Philippe Montanier’s men settled quickly though, and Thijs Dallinga broke the offside trap, but saw his shot touched onto the post by Marcin Bułka. Fortunately, his disappointment was short-lived, with Dallinga then getting the slightest of contacts on an exquisite Branco van den Boomen cross to open his Toulouse account.
Having scored 36 goals to help Dutch side Excelsior earn promotion last term, Dallinga was thirsting for more. Nathan Ngoumou almost set up the 22-year-old for a second soon after due to a moment of madness from Bułka, who was lucky to be bailed out by Jean-Clair Todibo. Contrastingly, Dallinga’s compatriot Calvin Stengs – still visibly lacking confidence after a frustrating first season with Nice – could only hit the crossbar on the half-hour mark with a thunderbolt.
With away fans praying for a second-half fightback from Nice, all eyes were on Les Aiglons frontman Andy Delort, who had created chances as HT approached but failed to trouble Maxime Dupé. After Nice had been outdone for most of the game, the injection of quality needed eventually came from the bench, as Bilal Brahimi made a superb burst forward before teeing up Aaron Ramsey, who struck clinically within a minute off being introduced to the action.
Toulouse looked more like a promoted side in the dying minutes as Dupé was forced into a magnificent save to deny Mario Lemina’s header, but Philippe Montanier’s men showed more than enough to suggest that this season could be very different from their last in Ligue 1, when they only managed to register 13 points. Meanwhile, Nice still have much work to do if they are to match the third-place finish Lucien Favre achieved in his first spell at the club.
In a match-up where very little love is ever lost, it was the hosts who started on top, with Angers’ Adrien Hunou squirming the first big chance of the match. Played through on goal,the midfielder lacked the composure to slot the ball underneath an onrushing Alban Lafont in the Nantes goal.
From thereon in, the Angers attacks intensified, with Hunou and Lois Diony at the heart of all things positive for the hosts. Firstly Hunou, whose goalbound effort appeared to strike the arm of a Nantes defender, but referee Hakim Ben El Hadj was unmoved by the protests. And then, Diony’s first-time snapshot inside the penalty area flashed just wide of the visitors’ goal. A promising half for Angers, who entered the clash winless in their last four league meetings with Les Canaris.
Below par throughout the first half, Nantes wasted little time in taking it to their opponents early in the second period. Ludovic Blas started the onslaught, but the Nantes midfielder’s driven shot was comfortably tipped around the post by Paul Bernardoni. Marcus Coco and Andrei Girotto were next to try their luck for the away side, but neither could find the net.
As the contest edged towards its conclusion, the hosts began to go in search of the elusive opener, with Angers’ best chance falling to Azzedine Ounahi, but the 22-year-old’s effort blazed high and wide over the crossbar. All of which would’ve rendered irrelevant, had Waniss Taïbi converted at the back post in the dying embers, yet it wasn’t to be for either side on an afternoon where the points were somewhat deservedly shared.
Attempting to replicate their stellar home form from last season (W9, D4, L3) Lens came out of the gates hammering down on the Brest defence, with a high tempo and high possession rate, and only a key pass was missing from capping off an impressive opening.
However, the first-half threatened to end with no real goalscoring opportunities for either side, until Lens finally got their chance as HT approached. Florian Sotoca played Przemysław Frankowski into the Brest box and his cut back was palmed away by Marco Bizot, but he could only push it into Sotoca’s path as he smashed the ball into the net to give the hosts the lead. Sotoca could have doubled the lead only moments later when he stepped up to take a pen, after Franck Honorat shoved over Seko Fofana in the box. The experienced forward hit a lacklustre effort to Bizot’s left, with the keeper able to get down to stop the effort.
It took till the 52nd minute, but Brest finally recorded a shot, sadly for them it was a weak header that Brice Samba collected with ease. Just as the Pirates seemed to be swinging, the momentum of the game changed when Sotoca stunned them and doubled the lead. Frankowski delivered a dangerous corner into the front post in the 62nd minute, with Scotoca meeting the ball to direct it across goal into the far post for 2-0. Minutes later, the forward completed the hat-trick as Scotoca latched onto a long ball from Fofana and was able to lift it over Bizot with the outside of his boot, as the ball floated into an empty net for 3-0.
The tie was far from over as Brest sparked life into their performance and Haris Belkebla’s shot from distance deflected past Samba to bring the deficit back down to two goals. To the visitors' frustration they too had a chance to score from the spot, Romain Del Castillo had a similarly weak penalty which Samba saved, before the referee indicated that the penalty must be retaken. With his second attempt, Del Castillo rifled the ball into the bottom left to make for a tense finale.
Both sides looked for further goals but the game eventually finished with Lens taking all three points after a strong opening day showing. For Brest, it will be concerning that it took almost an hour to register a single shot and could be a sign of a long Ligue 1 season ahead.
An aura of excitement surrounded Auxerre as they faced their first Ligue 1 match in ten years, following promotion via a dramatic play-off with St Etienne last season. But any hopes of a positive start for AJA were shattered almost instantly when an inspired and potent Lille scored twice within the opening three minutes. Straight from kick-off, Lille worked the ball to Jonathan David, who cleverly backheeled to tee up Benjamin André on the edge of the area, and the midfielder rifled a low strike past Benoît Costil for his first Ligue 1 goal since December 2021.
David then struck a second moments later. Lille’s 2021/22 top scorer was left unmarked on the right wing by Auxerre’s defence, and the winger drove into the box and coolly whipped a low shot past Costil. The gulf in quality between the sides showed once more before HT, when Auxerre gave the ball away cheaply, allowing Rémy Cabella to dribble into the area and cut back to David, who tapped his second goal into an empty net.
Auxerre started the second half more positively and kept possession with greater success, but their newfound sense of composure wasn’t to last. Lille wrestled back their previous dominance, and Akim Zedadka volleyed in Jonathan Bamba’s lofted cross to cap a rapid counter-attack on 64 minutes.
Though their 11-match unbeaten away run was now dead and buried, Auxerre persisted and got a late consolation when Gaëtan Charbonnier clipped the ball over an onrushing Léo Jardim. Lille had further chances to extend the lead, and ultimately made a mockery of Auxerre’s survival ambitions, recording a sixth straight home victory against a newly-promoted side in emphatic style.
Normally, the brand-new season brings plenty of optimism and excitement. However, for Montpellier and Troyes, it was pretty much the opposite. La Paillade boss, Olivier Dall'Oglio, is already potentially losing sleep about his side's leaky defence after they shipped in 14 goals during pre-season, while it has been reported a number of ESTAC players have privately called for chief Bruno Irles - the man who secured Troyes survival last term - to be axed.
Despite those concerns, Montpellier took an early lead thanks to a dazzling strike by new signing Théo Sainte-Luce, who latched onto a lofted ball inside the area to put his team ahead. Troyes soon hit back, as Florian Tardieu hammered home from the penalty spot, after Mamadou Sakho was adjudged to have given away a foul inside the area. Just three minutes later, La Paillade took the lead once more, with Téji Savanier firing in a rebounded effort, but Troyes instantly replied through an inch-perfect volley from Mama Baldé. Whilst the remainder of the half was not as heart-stopping, Montpellier were almost provided an opportunity to restore their lead from the spot following a potential handball, but after a VAR review, play was ordered to continue.
After a subdued opening to the second half, as both sides battled to ultimately take home three points, a penalty appeal for the visitors was denied following a VAR check after the hour mark, but it was Montpellier who found the all-important winner late in the game, as Savanier capped off a fine performance by excellently launching a first-time strike in off the post. Montpellier have now ended a run of nine consecutive games without victory in Ligue 1, with Troyes winless record on the road in competitive action now stretching to six games.
It was the hosts who, unsurprisingly, showed a greater desire to get forward in the early stages, and their high tempo passing was causing some problems for the visitors. Lorient had the worst away record in Ligue 1 last season, and with this in mind their aim will have been to stay in the game for as long as possible.
Adrien Truffert could have given the hosts the perfect start after just 26 seconds, when his first-time shot from a cross was blocked on its path to goal. The wing-back then saw his shot deflected just wide, before Benjamin Bouriheaud’s bullet header from a cross went wide of the right post as Bruno Génésio’s men continued to push for the opening goal. Despite having started very much on the front foot, Les Rennais lost some tempo to their play as the first half wore on, with their attacks becoming easier to defend from a Lorient perspective.
The first 20 minutes of the second-half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Rennes looking the more likelier to take the lead. However, the home fans were stunned when Gedeon Kalulu put a teasing ball into the area which Theate tried to clear, but the new signing diverted it past Steve Mandanda to give Lorient a surprise lead with 25 minutes to play.
Armand Laurienté had a chance to all but end the contest not long after, but his shot from a tight angle hit the left post. Despite late pressure from Rennes, they were unable to find an equaliser as they suffered an early set back. Lorient, who are expected to be battling against relegation this season, will be delighted to have banished their away day hoodoo at the first time of asking, as will new manager Régis Le Bris.
Marseille cruised to a positive start within the first quarter-hour, and after taking control of proceedings, Jonathan Clauss’ cross from the right wing meant for striker Arkadiusz Milik was instead met by defender Wout Faes, who volleyed the ball into his own net. Turkish star Cengiz Ünder then sent a point-blank shot straight at Patrick Pentz, which the visiting goalkeeper brilliantly pushed away towards the crossbar to maintain the scoreline.
Reims were left visibly inadequate upfront without last campaign’s topscorer Hugo Ekitike and new signing Junyo Ito, as they failed to create any decent advances in the final third. Taking advantage of their shortcomings, Portuguese starlet Tavares punished Reims with a stunning debut goal right before HT, when he blasted an unstoppable low shot with his weaker right foot after turning in from the left flank to send the Velodrome berserk.
Immediately after the break, Reims mounted pressure on the hosts with a tactical change by coach Óscar García, as they held possession and pressed high up the pitch. In response, Marseille boss Igor Tudor deployed new signings Jordan Vereout and Luis Suárez on the hour mark. Marseille then resumed prowling the opposition half in search of a third, and substitute Suárez made the most of a loose ball in the penalty area in the 75th minute,striking a poacher’s finish with his left foot following a defensive mishap to all but end Reims’ hopes of a comeback. A clean sheet would prove elusive though, with Marseille’s backline allowing a high ball from Kamory Doumbia to find Folarin Balogun at the far post to head home a consolation in the dying minutes.
Always favourites in brutally hot evening conditions, Marseille added a fourth in the dying seconds after Suarez tapped home a ball across the area following a swift counter-attack. The Olympians know that tougher opponents lie ahead, while Reims cannot fail to recognise that rising to such challenges will be key if they are to better the 12th place finish they achieved last campaign.