Ligue 1 roundup: Golovin gets Monaco's winner while Sima goes from hero to zero

Ligue 1 roundup: Golovin gets Monaco's winner while Sima goes from hero to zero
Monaco needed just one goal to win
Monaco needed just one goal to win
Abdallah Sima scored one into each net in an Angers loss while Monaco narrowly beat Brest.

Angers - Lorient 1-2

With Angers entering 2023 bottom of Ligue 1 on the back of a 1-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Ajaccio, few anticipated the strong start they enjoyed here. Angling a well-delivered corner kick, forward Abdallah Sima excellently directed his header into the bottom-left corner to give his side the lead in just the 10th minute. Lorient rallied, but were denied successive chances by Terem Moffi and Yoann Cathline due to Paul Bernardoni’s brilliance between the posts.

Despite permitting their Europe-chasing visitors to get more of the ball as HT approached, the home side – having scored just their third goal at home before the break – almost struck again from an edge-of-the-box Sima effort, which whizzed past the right post. A positive first-half display garnered Angers hopes of reviving their form at the Stade Raymond-Kopa, as they looked to add to their league-low tally of just four points recorded at home.

However, Régis Le Bris’ men almost got one to their name right after the restart, only for Bernardoni to deny Dango Ouattara’s set-piece effort that was headed towards the right post. Angers displayed grit, repelling Lorient’s midfield advances with great defensive astuteness as the hour mark approached. It was largely thanks to their shot-stopper that the hosts held strong, but their good fortune lasted only up until the final 11 minutes, when a calamitous turn of play saw goalscorer Sima head the ball into his own net from a well-directed corner kick.

Les Scoïstes came excruciatingly close to regaining their lead a minute later, following a brilliant solo effort by Nabil Bentaleb, who turned two defenders inside out before unleashing a drive that smashed off the right post. And Angers succumbed to old ways yet again before long, conceding a fatal second via Enzo Le Fee’s superb shot, which lodged in the top corner and left Bernardoni helpless this time around. The dramatic win hands Lorient a first success in seven Ligue 1 games, whereas Angers continue to slump in the relegation zone.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Paul Bernardoni (Angers SCO)

Monaco - Brest 1-0

Monaco controlled the early minutes with patient possession play, but Mohamed Camara showed his eagerness to get 2023 off to a memorable start, hitting a speculative effort onto the post from outside the box. Meanwhile, Brest endured a setback, losing top scorer Romain Del Castillo to injury after just 12 minutes. The hosts continued to pressurise Brest, and Marco Bizot produced a world-class stop from Monaco’s first effort on target, parrying away a Krépin Diatta header at point-blank range.

The stopper was on hand again mere minutes later, this time thwarting a Breel Embolo header that looked to creep in low, before Bizot stopped it on the line. Still without a permanent manager after the departure of Michel Der Zakarian, Brest’s goal lived a charmed life in the first half’s dying moments too, with teenage sensation Eliesse Ben Seghir’s turn and shot from a Bizot save nearly giving him a third goal in less than an hour of Ligue 1 play, following his debut brace against Auxerre on 28 December.

Despite still finding themselves without a permanent manager, Brest initially looked strong after the interval. But the charmed life of their goalmouth finally ended on 55 minutes, with a neat interchange of passing between Diatta and Camara allowing Aleksandr Golovin to fire in a regal shot from the best part of 30 yards, finding the top-left corner of Bizot’s net for a fourth goal of the season. Celebrations were suitably raucous, but Brest nearly equalised immediately, with Alexander Nübel stopping Jérémy Le Douaron’s header from a corner by saving low to his left. The early substitute also took a shaving of paint off the woodwork with a thunderous strike from the edge of the box shortly after.

The final ten minutes also proved to be more tense than anticipated for Monaco, and they were given a huge let-off when a breakaway ended only with a tame shot straight at Nübel. Steve Mounié also had a real chance to snatch a point, but he could only hit the bar with a header. Ultimately, Monaco were left counting their blessings at the final whistle, and their dreams of a UEFA Champions League return remain intact – as do 17th-placed Brest’s fears of the drop – following a seventh straight edition of this fixture to favour the home side on the day.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Mohamed Camara (AS Monaco)

Nantes - Auxerre 1-0

Ludovic Blas was one of the key instigators for Nantes, and saw an early effort blocked, before sending another speculative strike wide. Auxerre began to turn the screw in a spell of pressure, with Hamza Sakhi's set-piece deliveries causing panic in the Nantes defence, as Jean-Charles Castelletto did brilliantly to clear the ball away from the waiting Julian Jeanvier.

This game between two of the division's strugglers needed an injection of quality from somewhere, and Ignatius Ganago almost provided it for the hosts with a shot that cannoned off the crossbar following some fine work by Evann Guessand. Christophe Pélissier's side would have been the happiest to hear the referee's HT whistle, with the only shot on target falling to Blas, who was denied by Benoît Costil, before Ganago’s follow-up strike was blocked. An opening 45 minutes that lacked quality at both ends of the pitch proved to be Nantes’ sixth league match in a row that had produced a scoreless first half.

Youssouf M'Changama almost had an immediate impact after being introduced heading into the second half, nearly catching out a scrambling Alban Lafont. Antoine Kombouaré’s men were looking to Blas for inspiration, and he turned provider for Ganago, who could not find the target with his angled drive. However, the Canaries eventually broke the deadlock in the 74th minute courtesy of Marcus Coco, who slotted the ball through Costil’s legs from Ganago's perfectly-weighted through ball. It was the 26-year-old's first goal of the season across all competitions to give Kombouaré’s side a well-deserved lead.

Auxerre pushed for an equaliser through Gauthier Hein, but Lafont was equal to the shot with a fine save to his bottom right, and Pélissier’s side would leave the Loire-Atlantique empty handed. The result moves the hosts up to 14th in the table, while Auxerre remain languished in the relegation zone sitting 18th.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Ludovic Blas (Nantes)

Toulouse - Ajaccio 2-0

In the first Ligue 1 meeting between these two sides since 2014, neither side managed to take control of a scrappy first half. While chances may have been at a premium, Toulouse did find the net early on in the contest, when Farès Chaïbi rifled home from close range after 11 minutes. Wheeling off in celebration, the forward would ultimately be left disappointed after a VAR check revealed a foul in the build-up. Despite dominating possession for the majority of the first half, the home side failed to take advantage, with Ajaccio holding out until the break.

Aggrieved at the end of the first period, it wouldn’t take long for Toulouse’s worries to be put to bed in the second. Taking the lead less than a minute after the restart, Ratão tucked home a composed right-footed finish to set the hosts on course. Now peppering the Ajaccio goal, Toulouse’s second would arrive in stylish fashion, with Brecht Dejaegere converting Ratão’s back-post cross to double Les Violets’ advantage.

Having failed to win any of their previous five Ligue 1 outings, Toulouse kicked 2023 off in style, with a vital three points against a relegation rival. While only momentarily, the victory moves the hosts up to 12th, four points above the bottom four. As for Ajaccio, it’s just their second defeat in six league away outings, but with the threat of relegation looming over their heads, the Corsica-based outfit will need to improve, should they wish to avoid an immediate return to Ligue 2.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Rafael Ratão (Toulouse)


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