After their return to the French top-flight ended in defeat against Lyon last week, Ajaccio were under pressure once again as Lens dominated the opening stages, as midfielder David Costa came close to opening the scoring but saw his shot fly just wide of the left post.
With only four sides picking up more points than them on the road last season, the visitors looked determined to maintain that feat as the minutes ticked on.
Arsenal and Milan target Seko Fofana almost handed Lens the opener with an effort from the edge of the box, before new signing Lois Openda blasted a close-range effort right at Benjamin Leroy only to then be flagged for offside.
All of Lens’ games against promoted opponents last season produced over 1.5 first-half goals, but the hosts did well to keep score level going into the second period.
L'ours restarted proceedings like a drastically improved outfit, with Mounaim El Idrissy’s thunderous effort forcing Lens shot-stopper Brice Samba into a wonderful acrobatic save, as the home side displayed their intentions of playing direct football.
Olivier Pantaloni, the top-flight’s longest-serving manager upon his side’s promotion, made a hattrick of substitutions post the hour mark, but it made little difference in impacting the game.
Lens increased the pressure in the final quarter-hour, with high intense pressing in the final-third, as they searched for the opening goal.
Despite having a much higher expected goals ratio and taking charge of possession in the final minutes, the away side couldn’t penetrate Ajaccio’s watertight defence.
Lens will be disappointed with the result, in spite of extending their unbeaten away run in competitive games to five matches.
A fast-paced start from the home side was as fruitful as it was entertaining. Auxerre pinned Angers deep into their own half for the opening five minutes and reaped the rewards of their endeavours when Julian Jeanvier stabbed home a loose ball in the area.
It quickly went from bad to worse for Gerald Baticle’s men, as a well-worked corner routine led to a whipping Gauthier Hein cross into the box, which glanced off of an Angers head and into the back of the net to double the hosts’ lead after less than ten minutes.
A quick response was needed from the visitors to ensure the game did not slip out of their grasp before half time, and that was exactly what they got. After being picked out by Sada Thioub with a line-breaking pass, Lois Diony slid home with an aplomb to halve the deficit with twenty minutes of the first half remaining.
The drama did not stop after the break. As Angers pushed for an equaliser, they received a boost in the form of an AJA red card in the 55th minute, Lassine Sinayoko receiving a second yellow card after his elbow connected with the face of an opponent.
After pushing to take advantage of their numerical superiority, Angers eventually levelled things up.
A superb solo run by Sofiane Boufal was capped off by an inch-perfect ball across the face of goal, where Amine Salama tapped home to level the scoreline and snatch an unlikely point for his side after a horrendous beginning to the clash.
The travelling faithful will be delighted with the second-half surge from their team. As a result, Angers’ superb recent record in the month of August continues - they have lost only one of their last nine league games in the opening month of the season.
In just their third ever Ligue 1 meeting, it was a tale of two penalties that separated the sides at the break. Bossing the contest from the first whistle, Reims were awarded a chance to take the lead from the spot when Folarin Balogun was dragged down by Clermont defender Florent Ogier. Stroking home the spot-kick with ease, Kamory Doumbia’s lofted strike gave the hosts a deserved lead.
Such a pattern of play would continue throughout the half, before Reims were awarded a second penalty when the ball struck Yohann Magnin’s hand inside the area.
Surprisingly, there was a change in taker for Reims, with Balogun taking over the penalty duties, but there was no difference in the outcome, with the on-loan Arsenal striker tucking home from 12 yards.
Having dominated the first period, there would be a change in fortunes for Reims in the second, as Clermont carved a route back into the game.
It would start with Emmanuel Agbadou being shown a red card, with the visitors eventually being awarded a penalty of their own from the resulting free-kick. Just as the hosts had managed in the first half, Komnen Andric converted from the spot to help launch the Clermont comeback.
From thereon in, Reims’ fate looked sealed, with the equaliser arriving just 11 minutes later. On hand to nod home from close range, Andric’s second of the afternoon restored parity for the visitors.
Toulouse clearly wanted to build momentum from their impressive 1-1 draw against Nice on their return to Ligue 1 last time out. The Ligue 2 champions controlled this match early on in a bid to improve on their entire 23-match winless run on the road in France’s top-flight.
But, the Violets faced a stubborn Troyes side who wanted to show significant improvements after throwing away a late point in a 3-2 loss at Montpellier last time out and Brecht Dejaegere’s dipping volley was the closest the visitors came to a goal in the opening stages.
After allowing Toulouse to dominate possession early on, Troyes suddenly showcased their counter-attacking threat when Mama Balde nearly capped a blistering ESTAC break, yet the striker could not convert a free header for a second goal in as many Ligue 1 games.
Before half time, Toulouse burst into life to score their first away goal in two competitive matches as Aboukhlal lifted the ball into the six-yard area, forcing Yasser Larouci to divert an attempted clearance straight into his own net.
Despite going unbeaten in six of their last eight home matches in Ligue 1, things went from bad to worse for Troyes when Rafael Ratao tapped in Aboukhlal’s low cross minutes into the second period. ESTAC and a once buoyant Stade de l'Aube looked stunned and the hosts struggled to force any response before Toulouse substitute Rhys Healey fired in a thunderous strike from 20-yards to secure all three points for the Violets.
Bruno Irles and Troyes will want to put their consecutive defeats behind them quickly and they will be aware of how vital dropped points can be, with four teams facing relegation in Ligue 1 this season rather than the traditional three.
In contrast, Toulouse look like a different beast to the side that only won three matches in their last Ligue 1 campaign in 2019/20.
More to follow