Ligue 1 roundup: Auxerre claim crucial win at Ajaccio, Reims salvage point

Ligue 1 roundup: Auxerre claim crucial win at Ajaccio, Reims salvage point
Reims kept alive their European hopes
Reims kept alive their European hopes
AJ Auxerre inflicted a damning 3-0 defeat on AC Ajaccio in an important game at the bottom of table, a second matchwinner in a week from Farès Chaïbi saw Toulouse score an impressive 2-1 victory over Montpellier, Stade de Reims salvaged a late point in a 1-1 draw with Stade Brestois 29 to keep alive their European hopes, and more in Ligue 1.

AC Ajaccio 0-3 Auxerre

A cagey start might have been expected in a battle of two teams in the relegation zone, especially with the two starting lineups scoring a mere 20 Ligue 1 goals combined before this match. That wasn’t the case at all though, as Birama Touré controlled a dipping ball and fired it past Benjamin Leroy from the edge of the box, scoring in back-to-back seasons having previously gone without a league goal since 2016/17.

Remarkably, Auxerre doubled their lead in the sixth minute, with Rayan Ravelosen delivering a sumptuous cross that Nuno da Costa nipped in to head home. The atmosphere in a half-empty Stade François Coty was understandably flat by now, and having made several runs at Auxerre’s backline to no avail as the half progressed, Ajaccio’s misery was further compounded mere seconds before the break. A short corner saw Gaëtan Perrin ghost past Mickaël Barreto with ease and deliver a cross, which bounced in off Mickaël Alphonse in a show of utterly calamitous defending.

Olivier Pantaloni responded by making two changes to his backline, with his team being booed and jeered as they re-emerged for the second half, and Ismaël Diallo certainly brought some extra determination to Ajaccio’s play. If L’ours could have chosen for their biggest opportunity to fall to anybody it would have been Mounaïm El Idrissy, but the striker awkwardly hit a tame volley straight at Ionuț Radu when given his chance to pull one back.

Mathias Autret was unable to add an extra layer of gloss to the scoreline as he smashed an effort off the crossbar, with Auxerre cruising to their second consecutive win against fellow relegation candidates in the Ligue 1 table, which is made even sweeter by the result lifting them out of the drop zone. But as for Ajaccio, they are now eight points adrift of safety following five consecutive defeats, and in serious need of a lift if they are to stay up.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Rayan Raveloson (AJ Auxerre)

See stats and player ratings from the match at Flashscore

Montpellier 1-2 Toulouse

Looking to make it eight games unbeaten under Der Zakarian, Montpellier had the task of condemning Toulouse to a sixth loss in seven Ligue 1 matches. With that difference in form naturally translating into a gulf in confidence on the ball, Montpellier started well and crafted the first real chance for Elye Wahi, but he could only find the grateful palms of Maxime Dupé when inside the area, as Montpellier dominated the early exchanges.

For all their possession, however, Le MHSC were soon made to pay for that miss. Toulouse began to show signs of life, testing Benjamin Lecomte for the first time through Branco van den Boomen. But the hosts failed to listen to the warning signs, and soon found themselves behind courtesy of substitute Dallinga. The winger met Denis Genreau’s pinpoint pass, before expertly firing into the bottom right-hand corner inside the area in the 31st minute.

The second-half started in similar fashion to the first, except this time it was Toulouse who were in control of possession, waiting to find an opportunity to double their lead, whilst Montpellier struggled to gain a foothold on proceedings. In a commanding position, the Violets should have found a second through Thijs Dallinga, who found himself free inside the area, before failing to find a finish past the outstretched palms of Lecomte.

Montpellier weren’t without chances of their own as the half wore on, however, with Dupé forced to keep out efforts from both Wahbi Khazri and Téji Savanier, before Toulouse ruthlessly finished the game off at the other end through Chaïbi in the 85th minute, who was in the perfect place at the perfect time to tap home on the goal-line following an initial effort. It was also the perfect follow-up to his late winner against second-tier Annecy in Thursday’s cup semi-final.

Wahi’s consolation goal moments later, with the frustrated Frenchman lashing into the bottom left-hand corner, as Toulouse held on to jump into 12th and above Montpellier in the Ligue 1 standings, with any realistic fears of relegation now surely extinguished.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Maxime Dupé (Toulouse)

See stats and player ratings from the match at Flashscore

Reims 1-1 Brest

Seeking a fourth away victory on their expeditions across the 2022/23 Ligue 1 campaign, Les Pirates were ahead after only six minutes as Pierre Lees-Melou inconspicuously arrived into the area to nod Jérémy Le Douaron’s pin-point delivery past Yehvann Diouf. With an early goal and momentum in their sails, Brest should have doubled their lead shortly before the half-hour mark, but Steve Mounié took too long on the ball, allowing a Reims defender to get back to make a last-ditch challenge.

The hosts burst to life following a lacklustre opening to the game, as Folarin Balogun saw his header spectacularly tipped onto the crossbar by Brest goalkeeper Marco Bizot, before they were left frustrated seeing their penalty appeals for a seemingly clear-cut handball waved away by referee Benoît Millot. With goalscoring opportunities the primary offering in the first half, both sides again came close before HT, as no sooner than an invigorated Bizot had kept out Marshall Munetsi’s close-range header, Brest defender Brendan Chardonnet saw his fearsome strike cannon back off the right-hand post.

Determined to get back on level terms in search of a fifth home victory from their last six matches, Reims flew out of the tunnel to recommence the contest as Sweden international Jens Cajuste fired quick-fire efforts wide of the mark. However, after playing with much more endeavour in the second half, Reims were unable to test the goal of Bizot as Brest never looked like surrendering their slender advantage in a significantly less action-packed second half. This was until the 90th minute when the home side were handed a lifeline as the referee pointed to the spot after Arbër Zeneli was fouled in the area. Arsenal loanee Balogun made no mistake with a low-buried penalty to earn his side a late point.

Despite conceding late on, Brest have suffered just one defeat in their last six matches, with Eric Roy’s side losing no face with that loss coming at the hands of defending champions and current Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain. Meanwhile, Reims’ incredible run of form continues after ending up on the losing side in only one of their last 22 Ligue 1 encounters.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Pierre Lees-Melou (Stade Brestois 29)

See stats and player ratings from the match at Flashscore

Troyes 0-2 Clermont

An out-of-form Troyes side welcomed Clermont to the Stade de l'Aube in a crucial Ligue 1 encounter for the hosts if they were to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation this season. Having already amassed one more point than they managed during their last campaign, the visitors had far less pressure on the game and it showed as they confidently carved out two presentable chances before taking the lead. Gauthier Gallon had done well to deny Elbasan Rashani and Cham, but couldn’t stop Cham for a second time when the midfielder got on the end of Jim Allevinah’s cross to turn in from close range.

Clermont had only scored 29 league goals in 29 games so far this season. However, here they carried a real attacking threat in the opening half and deservedly doubled their advantage when Gastien curled in a beautiful effort from outside the area to score only his fourth goal for the club. Top scorer Mama Baldé had a brilliant opportunity right on the stroke of HT to pull one back for the hosts, but the usually reliable forward couldn’t find a way past the onrushing Mory Diaw, who did well to keep the scores at 2-0 heading into the break.

In a bid to get his side back into the game, Patrick Kisnorbo made two changes at HT, but unfortunately to no avail. Troyes ultimately struggled to get a foothold in the contest as hopes of a first double over Clermont since 2004 faded. Despite not creating many chances, Clermont did well to see out the win comfortably, with their two best opportunities of the half coming in the closing stages of the game.

Firstly, Gastien almost produced another wonder strike, only to be denied by the post from the edge of the area. This was followed up by substitute Yohann Magnin somehow turning his effort over the bar from a few yards out to see the game finish at 2-0. Victory lifts the visitors up to 11th, while Troyes remain in the relegation zone, seven points from safety.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Muhammed Cham (Clermont Foot 63)

See stats and player ratings from the match at Flashscore


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