Ligue 1 roundup: Nantes come back twice against Nice, bottom three all lose

Ligue 1 roundup: Nantes come back twice against Nice, bottom three all lose
Nice opened the scoring early against Nantes
Nice opened the scoring early against Nantes
Nantes and Nice played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Ligue 1 on Sunday afternoon. Lorient, Toulouse and Montpellier all beat teams in the relegation zone.

Nantes 2 Nice 2

Mostafa Mohamed’s last-gasp equaliser ended Nantes’ three-game losing run as they twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw against Nice.

The striker netted with a towering header deep into the second half to ensure manager Antoine Kombouare avoided defeat in his 100th game in charge.

It did not take the visitors long to get into their stride, as after Badredine Bouanani’s 20-yard effort was deflected wide, they took a fifth-minute lead from the resulting corner, with Terem Moffi heading home Ross Barkley’s delivery after being left unmarked in the box.

The Canaries grew into proceedings, though, and saw Pedro Chirivella fire harmlessly over as they searched for an equaliser.

Kombouare’s side eventually drew level when Moussa Sissoko lept highest to nod Ludovic Blas’ free-kick past Kasper Schmeichel. Blas turned from hero to zero two minutes later though when he hammered a penalty against the bar, awarded after Dante hauled down Fabien Centonze.

That proved to be the final real chance of a pulsating first half, and Nice continued at a similar pace after the break, with Barkley having two efforts saved by Alban Lafont, either side of blasting off-target from long range.

Centonze then inadvertently hit his own crossbar, while Hicham Boudaoui had an effort tipped around the post as Digard’s side piled on the pressure.

It looked inevitable that they would retake the lead, and after Moffi had been denied by Lafont, the visitors duly got their second when Ndayishimiye tidily converted into the bottom corner.

It could have been more comfortable, only for Moffi to fire into the side netting, and they were made to pay for that missed opportunity when Mohamed met Joao Victor’s terrific cross two minutes from time to snatch a point for the Canaries.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Terem Moffi (Nice)

See all the match stats here.

Angers 0 Toulouse 2

Toulouse listed a first win in four league matches with a 2-0 win against Angers, who remain winless in Ligue 1 since September 2022 – representing what is now a streak of 19 league matches without tasting victory.

Marshalled by Moroccan revelation Zakaria Aboukhlal, Toulouse exerted early pressure with the aim of bridging a seven-point gap to the top half of the table. Yet, despite basement club Angers being as bleak as they had been all season, they forged the first real chance.

Pierrick Capelle volleyed a pinpoint cross off the left post, leaving the 18,000-strong Stade Raymond-Kopa gasping for air. But that didn’t deter Toulous, and they swiftly resumed their dominance.

Once again, Angers showed the naivety that saw them enter this clash with the lowest top-tier total for any team at this stage since 1980 (ten points), and Toulouse finally broke the deadlock before the break via Mikkel Desler. Latching onto a rogue ball after a deflection, the Danish wingback struck a low drive past a helpless Paul Bernadoni, only minutes after the goalkeeper stunningly kept a goalbound effort at bay.

It got even worse for the home team following the break, as distasteful Angers fans expressed their displeasure by hurling flares on the pitch, damaging the goal net just after their side went 2-0 down.

Toulouse’s second, which was a joy to watch, to say the least, largely prompted the five-minute interruption, as some wicked tiki-taka play carved open the home defence and allowed Thijs Dallinga to guide a low shot into the bottom corner.

Perhaps distressed by the acts of the home faithful, Angers took charge and came close via Capelle once more, with the veteran forcing Maxime Dupe into a diving save after he let fly a long-range attempt.

Their efforts for a consolation ultimately ended in vain, and a 21st league defeat this term failed to alleviate their off-pitch controversies, as they now look likelier than ever to play in Ligue 2 next campaign.

Meanwhile, Philippe Montanier’s outfit added to their meagre point haul on the road with just a fourth away win this season, giving Toulouse fresh hope of a strong finish, despite the potential distraction of a maiden Coupe de France triumph still in play.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Mikkel Desler(Toulouse)

See all the match stats here.

AC Ajaccio 0 Montpellier 1

Montpellier registered their fourth victory in their last five matches following a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened AC Ajaccio in Corsica.

Hoping to extend a recent one-sided Ligue 1 record in their favour, after registering seven victories in the previous nine encounters, Montpellier began confidently at the Stade Francois Coty as Benjamin Leroy sublimely prevented Faitout Maouassa’s effort from nestling into the corner.

For their part, Ajaccio were looking to stem a trend that had seen them score just three Ligue 1 openers all season but struggled to find a significant threat in front of goal.

With both sides firing blanks in the final third throughout an uneventful opening 45 minutes, the game needed some extra zip in the second period.

The same lack of invention at either end persisted until the hour mark, but when Montpellier manager Michel Der Zakarian deployed Stephy Mavididi and key hitman Elye Wahi, Montpellier immediately cranked up the pressure on their endangered hosts.

The Armenian’s decision was quickly vindicated, as Wahi rose majestically off the turf to head Teji Savanier’s inswinging corner past Leroy in the 68th minute, for what looked to be his first decisive match-winner since March last year.

With every decision pivotal to Ajaccio’s chances of securing back-to-back appearances in the top-flight of French football for the first time in nine years, they were left bemused in the 83rd minute when it appeared that one of Montpellier’s players had handled the ball in the area. However, referee Hakim Ben El Hadj nonchalantly waved away their best hope of a late point.

The victory extended Montpellier's unbeaten league record to five matches, while Der Zakarian augmented a proud unbeaten record in his second spell as La Paillade manager.

Meanwhile, Ajaccio remain on course for an immediate return to Ligue 2, following their 18th league defeat of the current campaign.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Elye Wahi (Montpellier)

See all the match stats here.

Lorient 2 Troyes 0

Lorient moved within four points of the European places in Ligue 1, as a comfortable 2-0 victory over Troyes extended the visitors’ dismal league form to just one win in 19 matches.

Having failed to find the net in four of their last five league games, the hosts – still reeling from the departures of Terem Moffi and Dango Outtara in January – looked to make a fast start against their relegation-threatened opponents.

Lorient’s early pressure paid immediate dividends, as Bamba Dieng pounced on a loose ball inside the box and finished clinically beyond Gauthier Gallon to give Les Merlus the lead inside 10 minutes.

Buoyed by the early breakthrough, Lorient continued to assert their authority during a one-sided opening half-hour, with Dieng seeing a well-taken strike disallowed for offside, while Gauthier had to be alert to deny Montassar Talbi from close range. With halftime looming, the visitors thought they’d found an equaliser against the run of play, only for VAR to intervene and rule out Abdu Conte’s effort, keeping Lorient ahead at the interval.

The hosts carried their momentum into the early stages of the second half, seeing plenty of the ball inside the Troyes half. For all their possession though, Lorient struggled to create anything of note in the final third, with clear-cut chances near either goalmouth coming at a premium.

Conscious of their slender advantage, the hosts looked to inject some added impetus with the introduction of young striker Yoann Cathline, but Troyes continued to limit the deficit to just a single goal going into the final five minutes.

Having failed to win any of their last nine league matches, a late equaliser always seemed unlikely for Troyes, and this proved to be the case, as Lorient added late gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time through substitute Stephane Diarra.

The result sees Lorient move up to eighth in the table and four points away from fifth-placed Rennes, while Troyes remain deep in relegation trouble, sitting 19th and three points adrift of safety.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Igor Silva (Lorient)

See all the match stats here.