Ligue 1 roundup: Ajaccio earn some pride with Marseille win, Montpellier see off Reims

Ligue 1 roundup: Ajaccio earn some pride with Marseille win, Montpellier see off Reims
Ajaccio won just their seventh league game of the season on the final day
Ajaccio won just their seventh league game of the season on the final day
Despite relegation already confirmed, AC Ajaccio ended their Ligue 1 campaign with a rousing 1-0 victory over Marseille whilst Lorient beat Strasbourg 2-1 and Montpellier ended on a high note with a 3-1 win over Reims.

AC Ajaccio 1 Marseille 0

Ajaccio bid farewell to Ligue 1 by beating Marseille 1-0, as the departing Olympiens boss Igor Tudor completed his reign with a frustrating three-match losing streak on the road. 

Marseille started on the front foot and appeared determined to strike quickly against an Ajaccio side that had shipped 13 goals in their last three matches.

Alexis Sanchez tried his luck first with a swerving free-kick from a tight angle that dipped towards goal until Benjamin Leroy punched the ball away from danger.

Seemingly intent on keeping things tight, Ajaccio allowed Marseille to control possession, but still showed glimpses of promise on the break and Ben Toure was presented with a glorious chance to end the hosts’ six-match goalless run when a whipped cross landed at his feet inside the six-yard box. 

But Toure displayed the nerves of a young player making his full home debut as the striker couldn’t apply the finishing touch and Leonardo Balerdi quickly intervened to clear the danger for Marseille.

Les Olympiens remained patient and were almost rewarded with the opener before the break when Cengiz Under raced on to a loose ball in the area and struck low past Leroy, but Ismael Diallo was stationed on the line to keep the scores level at the break.

Marseille carried momentum into the second period, and a quick attacking move was nearly finished off by Ruslan Malinovskyi as his deflected shot was heading towards the bottom corner, only for Leroy to repel the strike with a fingertip save.

For all their possession, Marseille struggled to break the Ajaccio rearguard and paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness as Clement Vidal sent a controlled half-volley through a crowd of defenders and into the bottom corner to seal a last-gasp victory for Ajaccio.

The hosts were rewarded for their defensive solidity throughout and Vidal’s late winner gave the Corsican crowd some relief to end their 12-match unbeaten run.

Marseille came into this contest having clinched third spot in Ligue 1 already, but a lacklustre performance was symbolic of Les Olympiens' poor late season form of four losses from their last five games.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Benjamin Leroy (Ajaccio)

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Lorient 2 Strasbourg 1

Lorient registered their highest number of victories (15), and subsequent points tally (55) across a single Ligue 1 campaign since the 2009/10 season, following a 2-1 success over Strasbourg at the Stade du Moustoir.

On the back of a creditable share of the spoils with 2022/23 champions PSG last weekend, Strasbourg were inches away from taking the lead in the ninth minute as Colin Dagba’s sublimely-taken volley from out of the air struck the right-hand post.

However, Le Racing’s near miss was their hosts' gain less than sixty seconds later. Seeking their first top-half finish in Ligue 1 since the 2013/14 campaign, Regis Le Bris’ side wasted no time in taking full advantage of their near miss - as no less than four players combined in an exquisite display of one-touch football that culminated in Romain Faivre slotting the ball into the far corner past Matz Sels.

Determined to get themselves back on level terms shortly before the half-hour mark, Morgan Sanson tested the reflexes of Yvon Mvogo, as the on-loan Aston Villa midfielder’s strike was well-held by the Lorient goalkeeper under pressure from marauding-forward defender Gerzino Nyamsi.

With neither side able to rediscover their proficiencies in front of goal as the break approached, Lorient rediscovered their goalscoring touch in the 36th minute as Gedeon Kalulu perfectly timed his run against the offside trap before putting the ball on a plate for Lyon loanee Faivre to slot home a deflected effort past Sels.

Unimpressed by his side’s first-half performance, Strasbourg manager Frederic Antonetti instigated a triple attack-minded change during the interval - that included the introduction of veteran 36-year-old striker Kevin Gameiro.

The changes proved to be effective for the visitors, as Jean-Ricner Bellegarde halved the arrears in the 57th minute with a fearsome strike from outside of the area that flew into the top corner.

Clearly, in the mood to inspire his side’s second-half comeback, Bellegarde couldn’t have come closer to that as the midfielder’s ambitious long-range effort struck the post.

That turned out to be the last significant piece of goalmouth action at either end of the field in a scrappy second half, as the victory secured 10th place for Lorient -  a significant improvement on last season’s 16th-placed finish.

Meanwhile, Strasbourg conclude a disappointing campaign with the club's lowest points tally (40) in the top flight of French football since 2019/20.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Romain Faivre (Lorient)

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Reims 1 Montpellier 3

Montpellier showed their attacking prowess in overturning a one-goal deficit to defeat Reims 3-1 thanks to a clinical brace from Elye Wahi. Les rouges et blancs, in turn, miss out on a top-half finish after a first defeat to La Paillade in nine meetings.  

Will Still was deservedly handed a new contract earlier in the week, leading his team to a mid-table finish when relegation could have been on the cards if not for the club-record 19-game unbeaten run his side put together. However, a recent lull in form has left Reims with only two wins in 10, ensuring they will fall short of fifth, their best finish since returning to Ligue 1 in 2018.

Still may well be dipping into the transfer market this summer to find a replacement for his 20-goal loanee starlet Folarin Balogun, who should have notched another early on, blazing over with only Benjamin Lecomte to beat inside the six-yard box after a Marshall Munetsi flick-on.

Not to be deterred on his farewell tour, in true poacher style, the American buried an almost carbon copy of his earlier chance, profiting from another flick from a corner.

It was one-way traffic going into the break, with La Paillade thankful for only the one-goal margin as Munetsi crashed his effort back off the upright.

Montpellier president Laurent Nicollin described Michel Der Zakarian as the “ideal coach” for his side and his half-time team talk definitely proved that point.

Not to be outdone by his talented young striking counterpart, Wahi nodded home his first goal since notching four in defeat to Lyon at the start of May after Teji Savanier had whipped in a teasing ball.

Moments later, the away side showed their attacking prowess once more through Arnaud Nordin, who was on the end of a one-two before turning a statuesque Reims defence inside out and smashing beyond Yehvann Diouf into the roof of the net.

Wahi would finish the evening only two shy of Balogun’s haul on 19 league goals as he picked the ball up deep and waltzed through numerous challenges before coolly guiding home completing the kind of comeback they have been on the wrong side of in recent weeks.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Elye Wahi (Montpellier)

Check out all the stats from the game with Flashscore.


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