Ligue 1 roundup: Monaco continue to bounce up Ligue 1 table

Ligue 1 roundup: Monaco continue to bounce up Ligue 1 table
Monaco managed to get the win
Monaco managed to get the win
AS Monaco moved up into second place following a 2-1 away victory over relegation-threatened Stade Brestois 29 at the Stade Francis-Le Blé. The win lifts Philippe Clement's side four points clear of fourth-placed RC Lens, who play Nantes later this afternoon.

Brest - Monaco 1-2

On the back of a notable share of the spoils against high-flying RC Lens in their last home league encounter, Brest should have been ahead in the eighth minute, however, Jérémy Le Douaron somehow managed to fluff his lines in front of goal with the prospect of hitting the back of the net at his mercy. In pursuit of scoring on a staggering 34 successive occasions in Ligue 1 - the longest-drawn-out accolade of any team within the top five European leagues - Monaco surprisingly struggled to cause a significant threat throughout the opening exchanges.

After registering their lowest points tally (20) after 23 rounds of a top-flight campaign of French football in the current century, Les Pirates were left without the hidden treasure of a penalty in the 31st minute as referee Hakim Ben El Hadj nonchalantly waived away the hosts’ appeals after Le Douaron had been left on the Stade Francis-Le Blé turf. With the two sides set to remain unseparated heading into HT, Clement’s side broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 39th minute, as Aleksandr Golovin fired Wissam Ben Yedder’s instinctive cut-back past Marco Bizot.

With only the bottom three sides in the Ligue 1 standings scoring fewer goals than Brest before this round of matches, Eric Roy threw on Hugo Magnetti and Taïryk Arconte in the hope of reigniting his misfiring attacking assets. However, it was Monaco who thought they had netted the second goal of the game, only for Breel Embolo to be denied his 13th league goal of the season due to a marginal offside in the build-up. Nonetheless, the official’s flag could not stop fellow substitute Myron Boadu from doubling Les Monégasques’ advantage less than three minutes later, as the Netherlands international clinically slotted home from close range.

Le Douaron added a late goal for Brest to wipe out Alexander Nübel’s clean sheet, however, it proved only a consolation, as Monaco extended their unbeaten league run to nine matches. In contrast, Brest remains above the relegation zone on goal difference alone, as Roy’s side remain in an ongoing battle against plying their trade in the second tier of French football for the first time since the 2018/19 campaign.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Wissam Ben Yedder (AS Monaco)

Lorient - Ajaccio 3-0

Les Merlus took control from the very beginning and were awarded a penalty after a mere four minutes, when Oumar Gonzalez mindlessly handled Julien Ponceau’s cross. Bamba Dieng confidently converted from the spot for his first goal since signing from Olympique de Marseille in January. After conceding first for the 20th time in 24 league games this campaign, the league’s lowest scorers were left incensed when a penalty wasn’t awarded after Mohamed Youssouf’s cross hit Abdoul Bamo Meïté’s arm on the quarter-hour mark.

Despite the early setbacks, L’ours continued to battle and Youssouf made a vital block to stop Vincent Le Goff’s goal-bound volley. As the game descended into a scrappy affair, Vincent Marchetti’s free-kick gave Vito Mannone his first real test on the half-hour mark. However, it was another Lorient January signing that eventually showed the quality needed in the minutes before HT, as Olympique Lyonnais loanee Romain Faivre latched onto a loose ball in the box and coolly finished for his first goal of the season.

After being handed his first Ligue 1 start by Olivier Pantaloni, 17-year-old Moussa Soumano had to be patient for his first opportunity, but headed wide when it finally arrived. Lorient were proving far more clinical, as Ponceau latched onto Dieng’s low cross and poked home his own first of the season. The home fans thought Ibrahima Koné had added a fourth when the striker prodded the ball in from close range, but it turned out he had handled it.

Mickaël Alphonse came closest to a late L’ours consolation with an acrobatic effort that was easily dealt with by Mannone, as Lorient emphatically ended their four-game winless run across all competitions. Les Merlus go within four points of fifth place in the Ligue 1 table, with their European hopes remaining very much intact. Meanwhile, Ajaccio’s third consecutive defeat keeps them two points away from safety.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Bamba Dieng (Lorient)

Rennes - Clermont 2-0

Coming into the contest having lost five of their last six matches across all competitions, the hosts looked understandably short of confidence during a cagey opening 20 minutes, with neither side able to gain control of proceedings. As the match gradually opened up, Rennes missed an excellent opportunity to take the lead when Désiré Doué fired a close-range effort narrowly wide of the post, while at the other end, Grejohn Kyei saw a solo strike brilliantly thwarted by Steve Mandanda.

The hosts continued to improve as the first half wore on, and deservedly found the breakthrough eight minutes before HT. Lovro Majer did well to thread a neat ball into the path of Arnaud Kalimuendo, and the striker saw his effort deflect beyond Mory Diaw to give Rennes the lead. Undeterred by the setback, Clermont went in pursuit of an immediate response, and came within inches of finding an equaliser, when Neto Borges sent a bullet header narrowly over the bar.

Similar to the first half, the opening exchanges of the second were fairly uneventful, with clear-cut chances at a premium. This suited the hosts, who continued to look the more threatening of the two sides in the final third, and duly doubled their advantage in the 65th minute, as Kalimuendo tucked home a close-range rebound to double his tally for the afternoon.

Faced with a two-goal deficit and having failed to find the net in four consecutive Ligue 1 matches, a comeback always seemed unlikely for Clermont. This proved true, as despite some late pressure and Muhammed Cham striking the post, the hosts comfortably saw out the remainder of the contest to earn a valuable three points. Victory moves Rennes up to 5th in the table, ending their three-match losing streak across all competitions, while Clermont remain 12th after a fifth league match without a win.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Arnaud Kalimuendo (Stade Rennais)

Troyes - Montpellier 0-1

Montpellier haven’t tasted defeat in their five previous trips to Troyes with their last loss here dating all the way back to 2002, and Le MHSC looked the more likely of the two sides to open the scoring. Téji Savanier went close midway through the first half, letting a shot fly from a difficult angle at the edge of the area, but his effort whistled narrowly wide of the post. Troyes were looking to claim victory to end a run that had seen them win just one of their last 15 Ligue 1 matches, and they had a chance to do so moments after Savanier’s opportunity, as the ball fell to Lucien Agoumé on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot went narrowly over the crossbar.

Le MHSC started the second half on the front foot as they looked to open the scoring, going close again through Savanier, who struck a thunderous effort towards the bottom corner only to be thwarted by a fantastic low save from Gauthier Gallon. The visitors continued to up the ante as they looked to make it back-to-back wins for new manager Michel Der Zakarian. They got even closer to an opener 10 minutes after the restart when Arnaud Nordin rattled the crossbar with his first-time effort from point-blank range.

ESTAC were struggling to get a foothold in the game as the second half went on, but their job got much harder with just over 20 minutes remaining, as Papa Ndiaga Yade was shown a red card for a horrific challenge. The game was back on a level playing field just a matter of minutes later though when Savanier was also dismissed, following a referral from VAR. Montpellier scored late in the game to break the hearts of the Troyes faithful, as Wahbi Khazri reacted quickest to a loose ball after an initial shot was saved before firing into the bottom corner.

The visitors managed to see out victory and secure three valuable points to widen the gap between themselves and the relegation places to seven points as they remain 14th. Meanwhile, Troyes find themselves a point adrift of safety, having lost more points after the 75th minute than any other team in Ligue 1.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Issiaga Sylla (Montpellier HSC)