When you’re winless in 18 league games and rooted to the bottom of the table, the last thing Angers needed was to fall behind early. That’s a fate the visitors fell to inside two minutes though when Wahbi Khazri converted from Faitout Maouassa’s pinpoint delivery to fire Montpellier into an early lead. Angers didn’t enjoy too many attacks and when they did manage to foray over the halfway line they lacked invention. Ibrahima Niane did prove they carried some threat though when he powered a header narrowly over the bar.
The Ligue 2-bound visitors were left rueing their missed opportunity moments later when a moment of defensive madness from Ilyes Chetti allowed Téji Savanier the chance from the penalty spot to double Montpellier’s advantage - one he duly accepted. Having been instrumental in the creation of the opener, Maouassa was soon in on the goal scoring act himself, adding Montpellier’s third before half-time to place the game beyond any reasonable doubt.
It was fast becoming a little embarrassing for Angers, and when Savanier added his second inside the opening ten minutes of the second half, Montpellier were threatening to post a cricket score. The prospects of that happening were growing by the minute and Nabil Bentaleb’s red card certainly increased the chances of Angers’ defeat becoming even heavier.
Elye Wahi ensured Angers’ worst fears were realised, coming on as a substitute to net his second goal in as many home appearances and add a fifth for the hosts. It seemed from then Montpellier heeded Angers’ plea for mercy and fortunately for the visitors didn’t add to their hefty goal haul as they knew their work was done in securing three valuable points to steer further clear of the drop zone.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Téji Savanier (Montpellier)
In their first match since the passing of legendary striker Just Fontaine who scored 145 goals for the club between 1956 and 1962, it was Reims who dominated the early stages, with plenty of possession inside the Ajaccio half. Despite a bright start, the hosts struggled to create anything of note in the final third, as the visitors’ rearguard held firm in pursuit of a first clean sheet in ten league matches.
After a cagey opening half-hour, Reims looked to up the ante before HT, but it was Ajaccio who came closest to finding the breakthrough, as Romain Hamouma saw a strike thwarted by Yehvann Diouf and Cyrille Bayala directed a close-range header wastefully over the bar.
The hosts emerged after the restart eager to stamp their authority on proceedings, and immediately threatened an opener, with Folarin Balogun fizzing a terrific long-range effort narrowly wide of the target. However, Ajaccio - without a H2H away victory over Reims since 2008 (D2, L3) - continued to hold firm despite the hosts’ growing momentum, as Marshall Munetsi rattled the post with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.
With time ticking into the final ten minutes, both sides looked for some late inspiration to snatch a decisive winner, and Reims finally made their pressure count deep into stoppage time, as substitute Jens Cajuste rifled a brilliant first-time effort into the net beyond Benjamin Leroy to earn all three points at the death. The dramatic victory sees Reims rise to 8th, six points adrift of the European qualification spots, while Ajaccio remain 18th, after a fifth consecutive H2H defeat ‘to nil’.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Junya Ito (Stade de Reims)
After picking up just two points from the last 15 available, visitors Brest were in desperate need of a change in fortunes. They thought they’d made a dream start, when Haris Belkebla fired beyond Matz Sels and into the bottom corner, however, it wasn't to be as the goal was ruled out for an offside in the build-up. Strasbourg wasted no time in attempting to capitalise on the lifeline they'd been given, as they almost took the lead immediately after through Kevin Gameiro, but the Frenchman saw his powerful header from close-range kept out by a fantastic reflex save from Marco Bizot.
Le Racing had a strong track record heading into this fixture having lost none of the previous five H2H’s, and they looked the more likely to take the lead as the first half went on, as they struck the post through a thunderous free-kick from full-back Frédéric Guilbert. Brest managed to withstand the spell of pressure from the home side before striking the first blow just before the break. Franck Honorat was the man to get the goal, as he drilled a powerful shot across the goalkeeper from the edge of the box and into the bottom corner.
Strasbourg had managed to build a small gap between themselves and the drop zone in recent weeks after taking seven points from their last four league games, so they were desperate not to allow Brest to narrow that deficit again. They went close to finding an equaliser just after the hour mark, when a loose ball fell to Lucas Perrin on the edge of the six-yard box, but he was denied by a fantastic block from Belkebla. Marco Bizot came to Brest’s rescue again as the game approached the closing stages, as he denied a Strasbourg header once more, this time the unlucky man was Gerzino Nyamsi.
The Pirates managed to see out the game to claim a crucial three points that moves them clear of the bottom four and above Strasbourg, who are now only above the relegation places on goal difference.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Marco Bizot (Brest)
After reaching the semi-finals of the Coupe de France in midweek, Toulouse were attempting to recover from back-to-back league defeats by getting a result against a Clermont side who had found the back of the net just once in their last six outings prior to kick-off. The hosts started the brighter of the two and almost took the lead inside 20 minutes following good link-up play between Brecht Dejaegere and Farès Chaïbi, who fired his effort just wide of the left post from the edge of the area. However, Toulouse had conceded at least once in each of their previous seven games and looked questionable once again when the visitors’ Jim Allevinah easily got in behind before blasting a shot over the crossbar.
Referee Florent Batta had a busy end to the first half, dishing out three yellow cards for late challenges as the teams began to show their frustration. Clermont had failed to score in their last two away league fixtures and looked likely to extend that run to three for the first time in the top flight when Muhammed Cham and Grejohn Kyei failed to convert easy chances at the start of the second half.
For the most part, the game was defined by poor finishing, and with only 20 minutes remaining, Zakaria Aboukhlal produced the worse miss of the game. After doing well to get on the end of Ado Onaiwu’s low cross, Les Violets’ Morocco international somehow managed to blaze his effort wide of the post from only a few yards out.
It took a special strike to finally break the deadlock and the visitors supplied it, avoiding some unwanted history in the process. Khaoui was the hero, curling a marvellous effort from outside the box into the top corner to give his side a narrow victory. The three points move Clermont up to 11th, one place ahead of Toulouse.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Saîf-Eddine Khaoui (Clermont)