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Ligue 1 roundup: Wahi the man in masterful Montpellier comeback

Wahi celebrates his goal
Wahi celebrates his goalAFP
An Elye Wahi brace at the Stade de la Mosson allowed Montpellier Hérault SC to come from behind to beat Clermont Foot 63, sealing a sixth successive Ligue 1 game without defeat for La Paillade.

Montpellier - Clermont 2-1

Looking to escape each other’s clutches in the Ligue 1 table, the two sides went at each other from the outset, with both teams creating good chances to take the lead. Montpellier’s Téji Savanier came agonisingly close to drawing first blood when his effort crashed off the woodwork, minutes before visiting forward Grejohn Kyei sent a low drive buzzing wide of the post at the other end.

It wasn’t long before Les Lanciers broke the deadlock, though, as Saîf-Eddine Khaoui netted a tap-in following Kyei’s curling effort that rebounded off the right post – that strike was only the visitors' fourth first-half goal in their last 14 away league games. Despite the setback, Michel Der Zakarian’s men managed to pick themselves up towards the break as they put their opponents under pressure, but the HT score left the manager with plenty to ponder during the interval.

Senegalese shot-stopper Mory Diaw kept the visitors in the game after the restart, executing exceptional back-to-back saves to deny the hosts, but he could only do so much to keep Wahi at bay. The Montpellier ace planted an accurate header towards the corner, catching Diaw off-guard on the hour mark to equalise and, 10 minutes later, he stunned Pascal Gastien’s men with his second strike, this time finding space inside the box and driving a low shot into the bottom corner to complete the turnaround.

In the end, Montpellier saw out the game with relative ease, and Wahi’s brilliant second-half performance led them to a fourth successive unbeaten league game at home. Der Zakarian, in particular, will rest well following a fifth personal H2H clash without defeat against his former club. The visitors, meanwhile, have now won just one of their last 9 Ligue 1 clashes, almost ending any hope they harboured of a historic qualification for European competition.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Elye Wahi (Clermont Foot 63)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Nice - Lorient 1-1

Determined to make only a second-ever appearance in a UEFA-organised competition across the club's 96-year history, Lorient, who began the current round of matches only six points behind fifth-place LOSC Lille, should have been ahead on the stroke of the quarter-hour mark, but Bamba Dieng could only fire disappointingly wide of the mark.

However, Régis Le Bris’s side were ahead in the 30th minute from an unlikely source, as the marauding-forward Abdoul Bamo Meité tapped in Romain Faivre’s pin-point cross for his first-ever goal for the club. Hoping to extend their unbeaten Ligue 1 record at the Allianz Riviera to ten matches, Nice were forced to begrudgingly trudge down the Allianz Riviera tunnel for HT after frustratingly failing to register a shot on target throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Hoping to turn the game around in the second half, Nice were left incensed in the 55th minute after referee Ruddy Buquet nonchalantly waved away their appeals for a penalty after it appeared that Vincent Le Goff had handled the ball in the box. The man in the middle then further angered the majority within the Allianz Riviera as he overturned his initial decision to award a penalty after VAR recommended that Enzo Le Fée’s clash with Khéphren Thuram in the area was not worthy of a spot-kick. Nonetheless, Nice eventually had what they were striving for in the 78th minute when Gaëtan Laborde converted from close range to enter double-digits for the 2022-23 Ligue 1 campaign.

A less-than-ideal point leaves Nice five points behind fifth-placed Lille, as Les Aiglons must now wait until the conclusion of this month's international break before they face off against bottom-side Angers SCO at the beginning of April. Meanwhile, despite having Igor Silva sent off for a straight red card deep into injury time, Lorient remain behind Digard’s side on only goal difference in the pursuit for European football next season.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Abdoul Bamo Meité (Lorient)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Strasbourg - Auxerre 2-0

Strasbourg had seen an upturn in form since the World Cup break, having got three of their four wins this season since the restart, though a preceding run of three winless games kept them firmly in the relegation mix.

But the hosts made a perfect start and took the lead after just six minutes, thanks to a rocket of a shot from Gerzino Nyamsi that found the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Auxerre were then handed a lifeline in the 21st minute, when Strasbourg had a penalty saved, as Habib Diallo was denied by Ionuț Radu.

A joint league-high 20 of Strasbourg’s previous Ligue 1 fixtures this term had seen both sides score. But the Blue-and-Whites were in no mood to add to that tally, and went close seven minutes into the second half, as left-back Thomas Delaine drilled the ball across goal, only for Morgan Sanson to steer the ball over from the edge of the six-yard box.

Level on points with their hosts before kick-off, Auxerre weren’t willing to go down without a fight in any case, and Gaëtan Perrin wasted a big opportunity after receiving the ball inside the penalty area, rifling a shot wide of the post.

And the visitors paid dearly for this missed chance with just five minutes remaining, when Diallo converted at the far post via a searching cross from Sanson to put Strasbourg a huge step closer to safety. Meanwhile, Auxerre remain in 17th and now sit three points behind a safe spot.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Gerzino Nyamsi (RC Strasbourg)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Troyes - Brest 2-2

Both sides came into the matchup struggling for form, with Troyes winless in their last 11 matches across all competitions, and Brest with just one win in their last seven. The home side got off to a fast start, playing with great intensity and dominating possession in the early stages. Chances fell to Yoann Salmier and Rony Lopes, but Brest goalkeeper Marco Bizot kept his side in the match, pulling off multiple saves.

As is often the case in football, Brest took the lead completely against the run of play after Pierre Lees-Melou’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Adil Rami and into the back of the net. That lead lasted all but five minutes though, as Troyes completely turned the game on its head in a three-minute spell. They equalised through Renaud Ripart’s fine finish after he was brilliantly picked out by Lucien Agoumé, before Lopes completed the turnaround, reacting first to a rebound and firing in to send the hosts into the HT break ahead.

Brest came out with more desire and momentum was in their favour in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser. The visitors thought they would be getting that opportunity from the penalty spot after Steve Mounie was felled in the box but after a VAR review, no spot kick was given. However, the referee did point the spot for Brest in the final quarter hour when Mahdi Camara’s mazing run into the box was abruptly halted by an ESTAC defender. Romain Del Castillo stepped up and restored parity, firing in from 12 yards, and despite Gauthier Gallon getting a hand to the effort, he couldn’t prevent it from nestling in the net.

The home side pushed to try and retake the lead once again, and had a strong penalty shout of their own waved away and in the end had to settle for a point, which doesn’t really help either side in their fight for survival, though Brest have the safety cushion of one point above 17th place Auxerre.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Romain Del Castillo (Brest)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

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