Ligue 1 Roundup: Lille close in on European places, Brest climb out of relegation zone

Ligue 1 Roundup: Lille close in on European places, Brest climb out of relegation zone
Djalo scored the only goal of the game for Lille
Djalo scored the only goal of the game for Lille
Ten-man Lille edged past an Angers side who equalled their worst ever losing run, a brace from Del Castillo lifted Brest out of the relegation zone, Montpellier continued their poor form, while Nantes salvaged a draw from two goals down against Ajaccio.

Brest - Troyes 2-1

Two penalties converted by Romain Del Castillo and captain Steve Mounié handed Stade Brestois 29 their first home win of the season to climb out of the bottom-four ahead of the prolonged international break. 

Brest are one of only two sides yet to give their home fans the taste of victory this season, but welcome the away side with last season’s emphatic 5-1 victory in the back of their mind. Franck Honorat was at the double that day, and he thought he had put his side ahead inside two minutes. Reacting sharply when a powerful Mahdi Camara header could only be parried by Mateusz Lis, but agonisingly for him, VAR adjudged he had strayed offside after tapping home.

Les Pirates did well to snuff out any real threat during the first half, against a side who are only bettered by runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain in terms of away goals. The game was in need of a spark and the HT team talks appeared to stoke up both sides. First, it was central defender Andreas Bruus who finally tested the skills of Marco Bizot, forcing a fine reflex save down to his right. Moments later, up the other end, Mathias Pereira Lage felt a cynical nudge in his back from Abdu Conté when bearing down on goal. Referee Ruddy Buquet showed no hesitancy in pointing to the spot, allowing Del Castillo the chance to send Lis the wrong way and stroke home.

With only three goals at the Stade Francis-Le Bie prior to today, taking the lead was somewhat alien to them as they invited the pressure. On the counter Yasser Larouci was set free, taking the ball to the byline before his cutback was inadvertently put into his own net by Brendan Chardonnet with Mama Baldé breathing down his neck.

The drama wasn’t over yet, with Buquet pointing to the spot once more as Del Castillo went down under a soft challenge. With the talisman off the pitch injured, Islam Slimani’s effort was saved, but encroachment allowed Mounié another chance as he this time converted. In the ugly final moments, Baldé’s frustration spilled over as he saw red in a clash of heads.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Romain Del Castillo (Stade Brestois 29)

Lille - Angers 1-0

Bottom of the table Angers SCO equalled their all-time longest losing streak in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 loss against LOSC Lille, which means they have now tasted defeat in their last seven outings.

Those in attendance at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy will have expected a comfortable afternoon for Lille, given their strong recent home form and Angers’ contrasting struggles so far this season. However, it was a far from vintage first half display from Paulo Fonseca’s side, who weren’t able to get into a consistent attacking rhythm. Indeed, it was Le SCO who had the first effort on goal when Amine Salama’s shot from inside the area was deflected just over the crossbar, much to the relief of the Lille defence.

Having struggled to assert their authority in the opening half-hour, the hosts thought they had fallen behind 10 minutes before the interval when Salama tapped in unmarked at the far post, but the VAR came to Les Dogues’ rescue by ruling the goal out for offside. Angers’ emotions went from ecstasy to agony with this decision, and they were dealt a further blow when Remy Cabella’s corner was headed in by Tiago Djaló to cap off a crazy couple of minutes and ensure Lille went into HT with the lead.

The second half followed a similar pattern to that of the first, with neither team looking too threatening in front of goal. The best opportunity for either side fell the way of Lille just after the hour mark when Adam Ounas’ shot from inside the area was well saved by the alert Yahia Fofana. Les Dogues appeared to be keeping their opponents at arm’s length and heading towards victory, however, they were dealt a blow when substitute midfielder Carlos Baleba was shown a straight red card for leaving his studs on Nabil Bentaleb.

This meant the last 15 minutes were more stressful than they needed to be for Lille, but they were able to hold on to extend their unbeaten home record to five matches with a win that keeps them in contention for the European places.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Tiago Djaló (Lille)

Montpellier - Reims 1-1

Montpellier extended their winless run to seven games, but managed to salvage a point against Stade de Reims thanks to a 92nd-minute equaliser from substitute Sacha Delaye.

Given the small three point and three place gap between Montpellier and Reims in the depths of mid-table (L1) ahead of the game, we were always likely to see an evenly-matched affair. What came with the close encounter, however, was a relatively quiet start for both Jonas Omlin and Yehvann Diouf in either goal.

It took until the 32nd-minute for the first real chance to be created, with Junya Ito’s driving effort from the angle forcing Omlin to palm away, before Kamory Doumbia wastefully blazed wide on the rebound. It was then Montpellier’s turn to be wasteful as the action increased towards the end of the first-half, with Christopher Jullien rising highest only to nod his effort into the ground and wide of the goal.

Considering the fact that Reims were on course to become the first L1 side to draw four consecutive away games this century, their lack of clinical edge even up against a Montpellier side on a winless run of six games came as little shock, with Emmanuel Agbadou coming closest, smashing his header off the crossbar. The hosts were also guilty of spurning crucial goal scoring opportunities, however, with Elye Wahi failing to capitalise on the rebound of Diouf’s initial fumble, before going onto find the keeper’s legs when one-on-one minutes later.

Reims looked the more dangerous out of the two sides, and this soon paid dividends, with substitute Marshall Munetsi finding the goal in the 88th-minute following fellow substitute Mitchell van Bergen’s work to cut the ball back. Such is the drama of L1, however, Montpellier’s response was instant, with substitute Delaye picking up the loose ball before smashing his effort into the bottom corner outside of the area in dramatic style. The point leaves the hosts in 14th, and the visitors in 11th, making them the first side this century to record four straight away L1 draws.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Yehvann Diouf (Stade de Reims)

Nantes - Ajaccio 2-2

AC Ajaccio were denied consecutive Ligue 1 victories for the first time since February 2013, as Moses Simon’s late goal saw Nantes come from two goals down to draw 2-2. 

With just two victories in their last 14 Ligue 1 matches, and sitting perilously close to the relegation places, Nantes were eager to make a positive start in front of a full-capacity Stade de la Beaujoire. The Canaries wasted no time taking the game to an AC Ajaccio side that conceded 11 goals in the opening 30 minutes this season, and Pedro Chirivella’s curling strike almost caught Benjamin Leroy off guard, only to cannon off the crossbar.

Ludovic Blas’s deflected effort then looped just wide of the post, and it was a chance that would spark Ajaccio into life. First, Youssef Belaïli’s first-time volley from a tight angle flew past the post then Vincent Marchetti’s acrobatic over-head kick was tipped over the crossbar by Alban Lafont. Despite failing to score in a league-high six matches this season, Ajaccio carried that momentum into the second half, and got their reward just before the hour mark.

Marchetti was tripped in the penalty area by Moussa Sissoko, and referee Jeremie Pignard had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Belaïli fired low past Lafont for his third goal in two matches. Left with no choice but to go all-out for an equaliser, Nantes left themselves exposed in defence, and Ajaccio took full advantage with a flowing counter-attack that Romain Hamouma tapped in from Belaïli’s low cross, apparently condemning Nantes to a bottom-four placing during the World Cup.

But the hosts hit back when Blas curled into the bottom corner past Leroy. In the closing stages, Blas nearly levelled with a 20-yard thunderbolt that crashed against the crossbar before Simon’s cross evaded every player in the box and nestled into the bottom corner.  The late goal condemned Ajaccio to remain in the Ligue 1 relegation places, while Nantes are outside the bottom four on goal difference as their six-match unbeaten run against newly promoted opposition continues.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Youssef Belaïli (AC Ajaccio)


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