PARIS: Second-half goals from Boulaye Dia and Suk Hyun-jun gave Reims a shock 2-0 away win against Olympique Marseille in their opening Ligue 1 match yesterday, handing coach Andre Villas-Boas a losing start in charge of the hosts.
In a match played in stifling heat at the Velodrome, Dia struck in the 58th minute immediately after Kevin Strootman rattled the crossbar for Marseille and substitute Suk added a second in the final moments of the game.
It was a grim start for a toothless Marseille side, who hired Villas-Boas to improve on last season’s fifth place which saw them miss out on European football.
“I’m responsible for the defeat,” former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach Villas-Boas said. “My responsibility is to find solutions for this defeat. It’s difficult to accept. We were too slow in attack, we couldn’t find any space.”
Marseille, who mustered only two shots on target, had more possession in the first half but Reims created the better chances, with both Moussa Doumbia and Dia forcing Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda into action.
Marseille should have gone ahead in the 57th minute when Morgan Sanson’s cross found Strootman unmarked in the middle of the Reims penalty area but the Dutchman fired against the crossbar.
Reims immediately went down the other end where Dia exchanged passes with Tristan Dingome to open up the Marseille defence and calmly beat Mandanda with a right-foot shot.
Dia turned provider when he unselfishly laid the ball off to South Korean Suk who comfortably beat Mandanda in the 90th minute.
St Etienne, holders of a record 10 French league titles, gave new coach Ghislain Printant a winning start with a 2-1 win at Dijon. Romain Hamouma and Jean Eudes Aholou scored in the first 11 minutes for the visitors before Julio Tavares pulled one back with a penalty in the 34th minute.
Rennes also struck early as a sixth minute goal from 35-year-old Madagascar defender Jeremy Morel on his debut gave them a 1-0 win at Montpellier.
Rennes goalkeeper Romain Salin saved a penalty from Andy Delort and they had to hang on with 10 men after Flavien Tait was sent off in the 69th minute following a VAR review.
A 95th-minute header from veteran Brazilian defender Dante gave Nice a 2-1 win over Amiens who played for over one hour with 10 men after Eddy Gnahore was sent off for a second booking.
Angers came from behind to beat Girondins Bordeaux 3-1 while Brest and Toulouse drew 1-1.
Titleholders and runaway favourites Paris St Germain host Nimes in their opening match today.