Ligue 1 early roundup: Toulouse annihilate struggling Auxerre, Nantes hold Lyon

Ligue 1 early roundup: Toulouse annihilate struggling Auxerre, Nantes hold Lyon
Ligue 1 early roundup: Toulouse annihilate struggling Auxerre, Nantes hold Lyon
Ligue 1 early roundup: Toulouse annihilate struggling Auxerre, Nantes hold Lyon
Toulouse made waves on Wednesday evening's early Ligue 1 games with a 5-0 demolition of Auxerre to lift them to 11th in the table. Elsewhere Lyon were held by Nantes in a goalless draw, whilst there were also wins for Reims and Clermont.

AC Ajaccio 0 Reims 1

A third-minute goal from Marshall Munetsi was all Reims needed to overcome AC Ajaccio, and in turn push their undefeated run to 11 competitive matches.

Reims enjoyed a blistering start to the contest and took control as soon as the referee blew the whistle, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them scoring the opener so quickly.

Munetsi pounced on an opportunity to beat the helpless keeper in his wake and put the visitors on top, via his third goal of the campaign following an assist from Emmanuel Agbadou.

The goal underwent a VAR check to see if there was a previous offside during the build-up, and after seeing their strike given the final seal of approval, Reims continued to push the lines forward.

Firmly in control, they could have added another strike in the 37th minute through Alexis Frips, but his effort was blocked by a defender in the last second.

Reims’ half-time lead was completely deserved, prompting Ajaccio to start the second half with a more aggressive approach, and they came close to evening things up in the 51st minute.

Sensing blood, Fernand Mayembo missed an incredible chance after pouncing on a rebound, only to rattle the crossbar from close range.

The hosts were not consistent with their approach after that strong start however, and they quickly reverted to a more conservative style, while Reims simply tried to control the contest by moving the ball around.

The hosts made two late changes looking to spark things up in the final third, but their attempts were unsuccessful and the final minutes were dull, with Ajaccio looking to push the ball forward and the visitors aiming to close things out with their slim one goal advantage.

Ajaccio remain just one point above the drop zone, while Reims find themselves sitting pretty in the top half.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Marshall Munetsi (Reims)

Auxerre 0 Toulouse 5

For just the second time in 32 Ligue 1 away games, Toulouse emerged victorious thanks to a 5-0 victory over Auxerre which, in turn, also eased their own relegation fears.

Having lost 1-0 to fellow strugglers Nantes last time out, the hosts could ill afford further defeat against another of their relegation contenders at the Stadium de Toulouse.

However, the hosts got off to a nightmare start when Branco van den Boomen's defence-splitting pass freed Fares Chaibi, who made no mistake in firing high into the roof of the Auxerre net.

Only a smart Benoit Costil stop prevented the visitors from taking a two-goal lead before the half-hour mark with van den Boomen influential once more, this time floating a cross onto the head of Anthony Rouault before the defender was denied by the Auxerre stopper.

Rouault wasn’t to be thwarted twice, though, cushioning down Moussa Diarra’s pinpoint delivery and prodding home beneath the onrushing Costil, and Auxerre’s problems intensified even further before the break.

VAR was favourable towards Toulouse in awarding them a penalty for a handball in the area, and Van Den Boomen jumped at the chance to get himself on the scoresheet, stroking home Toulouse’s third to leave their opponents with a mountain to climb after the interval.

Auxerre showed few signs of staging a comeback, and it was instead Toulouse who had the best chance to net the game’s next strike.

Rafael Ratao’s thunderous volley was repelled by Costil, who was the only man sparing his team from the embarrassment of an even heavier defeat.

Anything that could possibly have gone wrong for Auxerre on the night did, and things went from bad to worse when Zakaria Aboukhlal slammed home Moussa Diarra’s cross from close-range to finish off the scoring and rub salt into the home side’s wounds.

Thijs Dallinga rounded off the scoring in the closing stages following a brief VAR check, firing into the top corner with aplomb.

The result sees Auxerre remain in the relegation zone with just 13 points, while Toulouse sit 11th and can now begin to breathe a little easier after putting some distance between themselves and the drop.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Branco van den Boomen (Toulouse)

Brest 0 Lille 0

Brest secured a vital point in their battle to avoid relegation as they drew 0-0 against a Lille side attempting to reach the top-five and reach the European places. It was Brest’s first point of the new year and stopped a run of two successive losses.

As for Lille, they remain six games unbeaten but will rue an opportunity to close the gap to fifth placed Monaco. 

With Brest under the new management of Eric Roy, their quest to remain in Ligue 1 started immediately with the former Nice manager expressing a desire to improve Les Pirates home form, having won just one game in Brittany this season.

As expected though, the visiting Lille side started the brighter of the two sides with winger Adam Ounas testing goalkeeper Marco Bizot with an early save. Les Lillois dominated possession and looked dangerous every time they went forward, however the Brest defence managed to keep them at bay in the opening 25 minutes.

With the home side having only scored seven goals at their own ground this season, it was to no surprise that their only opportunity in the first period came from a counter-attack 40 minutes into the game with Brest captain Steve Mounie’s wayward shot from 30 yards.

Despite a rare attack from Roy’s men, it was Lille that almost took the lead when Remy Cabella's soft shot was tipped wide by Bizot.

Despite their lack of scoring at home, Brest had an excellent opportunity at the start of the second half when Mounie could only hit the bar from a delightful Franck Honorat cross.

The home side were proving hard to break down in the second period and Lille boss Paulo Fonseca was getting increasingly frustrated.

Visiting striker Jonathan David had the ball in the net only to be ruled offside by VAR as Lille increased the pressure on the home side in the final stages of the game.

Lille though were denied only their third win at Brest in 14 attempts, who secured only their second clean sheet of the season at home as they remain in the bottom four.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Marco Bizot (Brest)

Clermont 2 Rennes 1

Clermont scored a last-gasp winner to beat European-chasing Rennes 2-1, marking the first time they have won two home games against the same club in the top-flight.

Rennes entered the contest as the league’s joint-second highest scorers, and they thought they may have the chance to add to that tally when referee Clement Turpin was advised to look at the monitor.

Maximiliano Caufriez appeared to accidentally kick the ball onto his arm, but after consulting with the video technology, the official decided that no further action was necessary.

Although the visitors were enjoying large spells of possession, Grejohn Kyei made sure they were aware of the threat that Clermont posed on the counter-attack when he fired over from outside the box.

Rennes failed to take notice of Kyei’s warning shot, and in the 31st minute, the 27-year-old gave his side the lead.

Saif-Eddine Khaoui’s first-time through ball allowed Kyei to round Steve Mandanda and roll the ball into the empty net, ensuring his side took a narrow lead into the interval, while also extending the visitors’ run without an away clean sheet to 20 league games.

Rennes continued to dominate possession in the second period, but without the services of top scorer Martin Terrier -  who sustained a season-ending cruciate ligament injury in the club’s most recent league game - they were finding it difficult to find a way through a stubborn Clermont defence.

In the 70th minute, Neto Borges spurned the opportunity to double the advantage, with Mandanda making a fine stop.

Not long after Borges’s miss, Arnaud Kalimuendo broke the Clermont resistance, sweeping the ball home from Benjamin Bourigeaud’s low pass.

Bourigeaud’s involvement did not last much longer, though, as he was shown a second yellow card for a poor challenge.

It quickly went from bad to worse for the visitors after the referee - with the assistance of VAR - gave Warmed Omari his marching orders for fouling Komnen Andric as the last man just outside the penalty area.

With a numerical advantage, Clermont snatched all three points in the 95th minute, after Johan Gastien guided the ball past Mandanda to end a three-game winless home run in Ligue 1 and send the home faithful into raptures.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Grejohn Kyei (Clermont)

Nantes 0 Lyon 0

Nantes and Olympique Lyonnais shared a point apiece in an end-to-end stalemate, as both sides failed to overturn their Ligue 1 misfortunes in a thrilling encounter at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

An early free-kick by Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes struck the crossbar, ringing signs of danger for the hosts, who then came agonizingly close to drawing first blood via Mostafa Mohamed’s first-time effort that skied into the stands.

Standing up to their adversaries, Nantes eventually got going in a bid to reverse their Ligue 1 misfortunes.

The Egyptian striker found himself at the end of yet another clear-cut chance after the half-hour mark, only to see Anthony Lopes pull off a commendable save with his legs, keeping the scores level. Lyon held tight, as Nantes increased pressure from the right wing through Ludovic Blas, but couldn’t pierce the visitors before the whistle came calling.

Having lost five straight head-to-heads – trailing at the break in each of them – the omens did not look good for Les Canaries going into the break despite an arguably superior display.

Laurent Blanc’s Lyon resorted to the possession game following the break, pushing Nantes on the back foot with successive attacks that time and again left them wanting more.

Knowing very well that only by keeping up their first-half momentum could they muster a positive result, Antoine Kombouare’s outfit rallied strong in the face of back-to-back opportunities for Alexandre Lacazette and substitute Rayan Cherki.

A penalty appeal by Lyon was further turned down by referee Marc Bollengier after Lacazette went down in the box.

Intensity by both teams lowered somewhat in the final quarter-hour, as neither could find an opening as full time approached. Despite a third straight clean sheet since 2019, Nantes linger in 14th position following the draw. In contrast,

Lyon can still muster hopes of a European finish in spite of the real risk of posting successive top-flight finishes outside of the top-four for the first time since 1997/98 after last season’s eighth-placed finish.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Alban Lafont (Nantes)


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