Ligue 1 Roundup: Ajaccio drop to bottom after loss to Lorient

Ligue 1 Roundup: Ajaccio drop to bottom after loss to Lorient
Ludovic Ajorque was on target for Strasbourg
Ludovic Ajorque was on target for Strasbourg
Stade Brestois 29 and RC Strasbourg Alsace played out one of the least thrilling 1-1 draws you’re likely to see, ensuring Brest’s wait for a home league win this season rolls on. Lorient bounced back from a 5-2 hammering in their previous game to defeat bottom of the table AC Ajaccio 1-0 thanks to a goal from Dango Ouattara. The defeat leaves AC Ajaccio winless and with just one point in their first six games back in Ligue 1.

Ajaccio - Lorient 0-1

With both teams understandably lacking in confidence, the start to the game was predictably cagey. The hosts began to get on the front foot with balls into the box and some efforts from distance, but Yvon Mvogo was untroubled in the Lorient goal and a half-hearted penalty appeal was turned down. The major flashpoint in the first half came when Lorient striker Ibrahima Koné recklessly collided with Ajaccio goalkeeper Benjamin Leroy. Despite protestations from the home team and Leroy staying down for an extended amount of time, the striker was only shown a yellow card - a decision that looked correct with replays showing there was only minimal contact.

The breakthrough did come shortly after HT, and you could feel the life being sucked out of the home crowd as soon as the ball hit the net. Ouattara was released down the right wing after some neat passing, but the home defence didn’t engage him at all as he ran unchallenged into the box before slipping the ball underneath the goalkeeper at the near post.

The hosts did have the better of the second half after falling behind, but they showed little quality in the final third and even less composure as multiple promising openings were wasted as crosses were overhit and shots were smashed high and wide of the target. The win for Lorient sees them move up to sixth, however, Ajaccio are already starting to drift away at the bottom of the table and need to find a win quickly or their return to Ligue 1 will be short-lived.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Dango Ouattara (Lorient)

Brest - Strasbourg 1-1

After a 3-1 defeat to Rennes in midweek, you would be forgiven for thinking Brest would again start slowly here, but it wasn’t the case. Whatever Michel Der Zakarian said pre-match clearly did the trick, as Pierre Lees-Melou took one touch to control from Islam Slimani and a second to fire into the top corner. Brest’s solid early work was undone by a moment of madness from Achraf Dari though, whose rash tackle in the box resulted in a penalty which Ludovic Ajorque duly stepped forward to convert.

Brest’s hopes of a return to winning ways took an unlikely boost when Strasbourg’s Sanjin Prcić was dismissed for a heavy challenge on Hugo Magnetti, to leave the visitors facing the best part of an hour with a man down. That dismissal bruised Strasbourg’s chances of finding a first Ligue 1 win of the season, but strangely it didn’t drastically affect the flow of the game, with little to separate these two sides. All this was without boss Julien Stéphan - the Strasbourg manager having been dismissed before HT for his protestation around Prcić’s red card.

Goalmouth action was fairly limited in this rather uninspiring clash, though for Brest conceding just the one goal was a small win in itself having become the first team to concede at least 15 after five games of a Ligue 1 season since Rennes in 2005/06 during the week. A point is undoubtedly disappointing at home against 10 men, but it does at least stop the rot for Brest, who slumped to a 7-0 home defeat as recently as last weekend.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Pierre Lees-Melou (Stade Brestois 29)

Clermont - Toulouse 2-0

Toulouse had started the season in sketchy form, but here Philippe Montanier’s side looked lively from the off and almost took the lead within three minutes when Dutch striker Thijs Dallinga smacked an effort against the crossbar. Minutes later, Les Lanciers gave the visitors a warning that the game wasn’t going to be totally one-sided as Grejohn Kyei shot wide when he was well placed to score.

Following a fast start, the contest found a rhythm which enabled the defences to be on top and balls threaded through the middle were often nullified, while crosses from the wings came to nothing. Toulouse looked more likely of the side to score and they very nearly did just after the half-hour mark when captain Brecht Dejaegare scooped a shot towards goal, but was thwarted by Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw. Les Pitchouns finished the half the strongest, dominating possession and forcing the home side back into their own half, before Toulouse were dealt a blow when Brazilian striker Rafael Ratão was forced off through injury.

There was delight for Clermont at the start of the second-half as Maxime Gonalons fired home from a corner to give the home side the lead. Pascal Gastien’s team almost made it two inside the opening ten minutes of the half, however Jodel Dossou shot over the bar. Clermont were also looking to keep a second consecutive home clean sheet as their defence tightened against a visiting attack that was struggling to get through.

Gastiens’ team almost made it two when Dossou’s low shot was saved at the near-post by Toulouse goalkeeper Maxime Dupé. With the visitors’ looking to press forward they obtained an excellent opportunity from just outside the box but Diaw pulled off one last stunning save from Branco van den Boomen’s free-kick in the final minutes. The win was confirmed when the hosts broke through substitute Muhammed Cham, who slotted home the winning goal to seal Clermont's impressive victory.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Mory Diaw (Clermont Foot 63)

Reims - Lens 1-1

As one of the four Ligue 1 sides coming into the round undefeated, Lens influenced affairs early on, but it was Reims ace Balogun’s fine dribble and shot that threatened the visitors first, with shot-stopper Brice Samba pulling off a fine save to keep scores level. Lens responded well, and Openda, Massadio Haïdara and Florian Sotoca all showed determination, as they sought to give Lens a seventh straight win over Reims.

Openda, who had previously fluffed a close-range effort wide of goal, missed chances in succession ten minutes later, first sending his low drive inches past the right post following an impressive sprint, before seeing his volleyed effort blocked on the line by a defender. It was a stout defensive show from Reims, but with Lens on top as HT approached, home boss Óscar García perhaps went into the break more content of the two managers.

It was Marshall Munetsi who squeezed the first real chance of the second period, almost putting the hosts ahead via an opportune strike, but Samba’s presence between the posts proved instrumental once again. Although Lens kept their cool, a moment of disaster struck them in the 66th minute, with defender Deiver Machado being handed a straight red following a cynical challenge that denied Reims a goalscoring opportunity.

Reims immediately exploited their man-advantage, as Kamory Doumbia found Arsenal loanee Balogun loitering on the left wing, and the marksman made no mistake from point-blank range, to hand his side a potential third home league win in 2022 out of 11 encounters. Yet, with only four sides conceding more than Les Rouges et Blancs’ 12 goals so far, there was always the fear of a late sting.

Franck Haise’s Lens outfit proved resolute despite their shortcomings, and indeed went on to upset the hosts with the equaliser seven minutes before FT. Openda, making up for all of his earlier misses, rose high above his opponents following Sotoca’s cross and nodded the leveller, much to the disappointment of the Stade Auguste-Delaune crowd, who once more saw a victory over Lens slip through their heroes’ fingers.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Brice Samba (RC Lens)


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