Marseille win Ligue 1 season opener, Ramsey scores on Nice debut

Paris (AFP) – Marseille started their Ligue 1 campaign Sunday by defeating Reims 4-1 in Igor Tudor’s first match as coach, while Aaron Ramsey struck on his Nice debut to salvage a point in Toulouse.

After a troubled summer during which Jorge Sampaoli walked out over his unhappiness at the club’s transfer approach, it was a welcome win for Tudor following a turbulent pre-season.

The former Croatia international was jeered by home fans ahead of kick-off, but an own goal by Wout Faes and debut goals for Nuno Tavares and Luis Suarez lifted spirits at the Velodrome.

Folarin Balogun, like Tavares an Arsenal loanee, replied late on for Reims before Suarez grabbed his second of the evening.

Tudor dropped captain Dimitri Payet to the bench, handing debuts to five players including Tavares and Jonathan Clauss, who earned a France call-up with Lens last season.

Clauss was soon involved as Reims defender Faes turned the right-back’s cross into his own net under pressure from Arkadiusz Milik on 13 minutes.

Marseille were unlucky not to add to their lead with Cengiz Under and Valentin Rongier hitting the woodwork, but Tavares made it 2-0 with a fine low strike just before half-time.

Colombian forward Suarez, signed from Granada in July, needed just 13 minutes to open his Ligue 1 account, steering home after the ball bounced around the Reims penalty area.

England Under-21 international Balogun headed in to cut the deficit, but Suarez ensured it was Marseille’s night by tapping home Cedric Bakambu’s pass deep into stoppage time.

– Ramsey rides to rescue –

Aaron Ramsey scored a minute into his Nice debut after coming on as a second-half substitute to rescue a 1-1 draw away to promoted Toulouse.

The Wales international curled in an equaliser on 78 minutes to cancel out a first-half goal by new Toulouse signing Thijs Dallinga, the top scorer last season in the Dutch second division.

Ramsey, 31, left Juventus when his contract was terminated at the end of July, and swiftly reappeared just across the border at Nice after penning a one-year deal.

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was named on the bench by Nice coach Lucien Favre following his arrival this week from Leicester City, the club he won the Premier League title with in 2016.

Jonathan David scored twice as Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca began his reign at Lille with a 4-1 home victory over Auxerre, who are back in the top flight for the first time in a decade.

Benjamin Andre put Lille ahead inside the opening minute before Canada star David doubled the lead with just three minutes played.

David added a third before half-time and Akim Zedadka made it 4-0 just past the hour. Gaetan Charbonnier grabbed a consolation for Auxerre.

Belgium defender Arthur Theate had a debut to forget for Rennes, putting an own goal past fellow newcomer Steve Mandanda in a 1-0 home defeat by Lorient.

Theate, signed from Bologna in July, shanked a cross past Mandanda, the 37-year-old World Cup winner who left Marseille last month after making a record 613 appearances for the club.

Wales centre-back Joe Rodon also made his Rennes debut alongside Theate after signing on a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

Florian Sotoca bagged a hat-trick despite missing a penalty to earn Lens a 3-2 win against Brest, while Montpellier beat Troyes by the same scoreline.

Last season’s French Cup winners Nantes, who were thrashed by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions Trophy in Israel a week ago, drew 0-0 at Angers.

PSG kicked off their bid for a record 11th French league crown with a 5-0 demolition of Clermont on Saturday, as Lionel Messi scored twice, including with a stunning overhead kick.