Stade Brestois 29 managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time in 16 Ligue 1 matches as they played out a 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Stade Reims, although they will be disappointed not to have picked up all three points after missing a handful of good chances.
It was the battle of the caretaker managers at the Stade Francis-Le Ble as Bruno Grougi’s Brest faced off against William Still’s Reims in a bottom-half-of-the-table clash. The home side came flying out of the blocks and thought they had taken the lead inside the opening ten minutes when Islam Slimani fired home. However, the forward was denied his second goal of the season after VAR ruled it out for offside. Slimani also went close shortly after, this time getting on the end of a brilliant Franck Honorat cross before heading wide.
Slimani was proving difficult to handle and was given far too much room to pick out a magnificent pass to Noah Fadiga, whose well-hit strike was brilliantly saved by Yehvann Diouf. The first half ended as it began, with Brest having another goal ruled out for offside - on this occasion, Mathias Pereira Lage was the culprit. Brest remained on top after the break and should have taken the lead through Honorat, who did well to create some space for a shot but ultimately put his effort wide.
It took the visitors just over an hour to carve out their first good chance of the game, as Bradley Locko’s bursting run down the left-hand side resulted in the full-back forcing Joaquín Blázquez into a smart save. Jérémy Le Douaron almost made an instant impact off the bench for the hosts when his looping header had Diouf scrambling to make a fingertip save with just over twenty minutes remaining. Folarin Balogun, who already has seven goals to his name this campaign, was unusually wasteful as he blazed an effort over the bar in the closing stages of the game.
Brest continued to push for a winner and indeed looked the likelier of the two sides to make a breakthrough, but in the end they had to settle for a draw. A point leaves the Pirates in the bottom three while Reims move up to 13th.
After four winless games in all competitions, AS Monaco finally arrested their slide with a 2-0 victory against Angers SCO, who slumped to a fifth straight defeat.
Sometimes you get the sense it won’t quite be someone’s day, and after the first 20 minutes, it would be fair to say Adrien Hunou was probably sensing that could be the case for him. After bursting clear on goal only to be caught up by two Monaco defenders, Hunou was felled in the area by his number-sake Malang Sarr, only for referee Stéphanie Frappart to reverse her original decision and book the Angers frontman for diving.
In truth, Monaco’s first-half performance was symptomatic of that of a side who is struggling to cope with the demands of a European and domestic schedule, but they were gifted an opportunity to end a leggy-looking first half on a high when Ibrahim Amadou clipped Wissam Ben Yedder in the area. But after the Frenchman dusted himself off to take the spot-kick Yahia Fofana was the hero to deny him from 12-yards.
Considering the game was goalless at the break, it didn’t lack in controversy as Angers had the ball in the net before HT, but Azzedine Ounahi was adjudged to have drifted offside in the build-up prior to finishing off a slick Angers move. There was eventually a goal that did stand though, which arrived shortly after the break, and it was that man Breel Embolo again on the scoresheet, who was seemingly fresh after being rested in midweek.
With just a one-goal advantage, Monaco were always looking over their shoulder, but any lingering fears of squandering the lead were laid to rest when Aleksandr Golovin stepped forward to curl home from distance and double the hosts’ advantage. Victory was a perfect warm up for a massive UEFA Europa League clash on Thursday, in which a knockout spot is at stake for Monaco. As for Angers, they remain rooted to the foot of the table.
Nantes’ season of domestic frustration continued, with the Canaries taking just a point after Mostafa Mohamed’s leveller cancelled out an opener from Neto Borges, in turn potentially denying Clermont Foot 63 a top-eight berth going into November.
Having taken six points from their visitors last term, Nantes were favourites prior to this clash, but they initially looked jaded after their last-ditch 2-1 victory over Qarabag in midweek. In turn, the only shots on target in the opening 30 minutes fell to Clermont, the second of which saw Elbasan Rashani unleash a long-range free kick that was thwarted well by the suspended Alban Lafont’s understudy, Rémy Descamps, in the Canaries’ goal.
Knowing a loss could see them plunged into the bottom-four, Nantes settled and Samuel Moutoussamy saw a shot blocked inside the box, before Quentin Merlin also tested Mory Diaw, who was equal to an effort on goal late in the first half. But Clermont were far from hanging on as the minutes ticked by, and Rashani was again denied by Descamps with the first half’s final piece of meaningful action, after taking a shot from the edge of the box.
Nantes failed to heed that warning, and Clermont took a vital lead nine minutes into the second period, when Jeremie Bela whipped in a cross and Borges met it after a darting run into the box, firing into Descamps’ top-left corner to put the Lancers in front. Once again, the Canaries were left to fight back from a deficit, but having done so in all of their previous four home league wins, this battle was far from over.
Mohamed was the first to visibly champion that belief just after the hour mark, but the Egyptian loanee blew a promising scoring opportunity, firing a shot marginally over the bar despite receiving a fine cross deep inside the box. But he atoned for that miss just 10 minutes later, receiving a sumptuous pass from midweek scorer Ignatius Ganago inside the box and firing in from close range past a helpless Diaw.
Clermont were indebted to Diaw shortly after the equaliser, when he made an acrobatic two-handed save to deny Moses Simon’s top-corner bound shot. That was the cue for the visitors, who began the weekend as one of just six teams unbreached beyond the 75th minute in Ligue 1 away action, to hold out for a point and keep themselves in the top-half. Meanwhile, Nantes still risk ending 2022 inside the drop zone after yet another domestic disappointment to follow midweek action.
Rennes - Montpellier 3-0
Stade Rennais F.C.extended their unbeaten record across all competitions to 14 matches, following a convincing 3-0 victory over Montpellier Hérault SC at Roazhon Park.
With a 25-goal tally second only to defending Ligue 1 champions and league leaders Paris Saint-Germain, the hosts began assertively and wasted no time in going ahead. Already a third of the way towards emulating his 21 league goals netted last season, Martin Terrier once again found himself wheeling off to celebrate, after firmly heading Birger Meling’s enticing free-kick past Bingourou Kamara for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Unbeaten in their last six H2H home encounters, Bruno Génésio’s side went 2-0 up in the 23rd minute, when midweek absentee Arnaud Kalimuendo directed a sublimely-struck strike into the bottom left-hand corner. Contrastingly, without the influence of suspended topscorer Elye Wahi in the final third, Montpellier struggled to produce a significant goalscoring threat, as veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda remained relatively untested in the Rennes goal.
The hosts continued where they left off after HT, as Benjamin Bourigeaud fired a fearsome strike just wide of the post. Staring down the barrel of Le MHSC’s fifth successive league defeat for the first time in over five years, Montpellier boss Romain Pitau introduced veteran striker Valère Germain into the fray to try and reignite his side. But Montpellier’s misery was compounded five minutes from FT, when Amine Gouiri curled an exquisite strike past Kamara.
Never in realistic danger of anything other than three points once they had gone ahead, Rennes now sit above FC Lorient in third position, after registering a 14th victory from 16 home league matches in 2022. In contrast, Montpellier remain only two points above the highly-congested relegation zone, after registering only one win away in this campaign.