Marseille draw at Strasbourg in opener

August 4, 2007

PARIS, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Ambitious Olympique Marseille managed only a 0-0 draw at promoted Racing Strasbourg in the opening match of the Ligue 1 season on Saturday.

Last season's runners-up, regarded as the only side with a real chance of stopping Olympique Lyon winning a seventh successive title, showed little initiative during a match played in stifling heat.

The best chance for the visitors was a shot from outside the box by Dutch winger Boudewijn Zenden that required a great save from Strasbourg goalkeeper Stephane Cassard.

There were two other goalless draws in later action on the opening day including Paris St Germain against French Cup winners Sochaux.

Girondins Bordeaux beat Racing Lens 1-0 courtesy of a superb first-half goal from new signing David Bellion while Monaco and St Etienne drew 1-1.

Lens were reduced to 10 men with a few seconds left, midfielder Sidi Keita receiving his marching orders for a dangerous tackle.

Toulouse, who surprisingly finished third last season, warmed up for their Champions League third qualifying round tie against Liverpool with a 3-1 defeat at Valenciennes in which striker Johan Audel scored a hat-trick for the home side.

Lorient midfielder Ulrich Le Pen, whose side drew 0-0 at Lille, was knocked unconscious after being unintentionally kicked in the face by his own keeper, Fabien Audard.

His club said he soon regained consciousness but had suffered facial damage.

Zenden, who joined Marseille from Liverpool in the close season, was one the best players on the Strasbourg pitch in a match with few highlights.

'We knew it would be difficult,' Zenden said. 'Playing a promoted team away is never easy. We created a few chances but it was not enough.

'We have some work to do,' he added. 'There's still a long way to go.'

Marseille coach Albert Emon, who was without injured France playmaker Samir Nasri, said the heat had played a role.

'Playing in the afternoon in temperatures over 30 (Celsius) is not ideal,' he said. 'It was tough for both sides.

'That said, we can play a lot better than we did today,' he added.

Lyon start their campaign at home to Auxerre on Sunday.