Brest are mathematically safe from Ligue 1 relegation after a goal either side of half-time proved enough to defeat Clermont 2-1, in turn ending the visitors’ lingering hopes of a top-six finish in their second season amongst the elite.
Nantes’ defeat to Montpellier yesterday gave Brest every incentive to fly forward against the surprise package of this campaign, with Clermont travelling unbeaten in seven matches after toppling Lyon.
As such, it was very much in sync with the formbook that Clermont drew first blood after a dull opening 43 minutes, as a cross from the right caught Brest unawares, and a series of passes inside the box allowed Neto Borges to fire low past Marco Bizot inside the post.
It was a truly awful show of defensive negligence late in the first half, but Clermont immediately showed Brest how backline blunders are really done, as they failed to deal with a throw-in.
A clever ball from Pierre Lees-Melou enabled Franck Honorat to burst into the box and switch onto his left to net his sixth league goal of 2022/23 at close range.
He clearly spent the interval thirsting for more, as he once again exploited a gap in the Clermont backline just three minutes after the restart.
Showing just as much initiative as he did for the first goal, his pass split the Lanciers’ defence like a knife through butter, and Steve Mounie fired home to complete Brest’s turnaround.
Clermont had little in response to going behind, and the lack of inventiveness at either end saw Brest claim the win and extend their top-flight stay into a fifth campaign. Meanwhile, Clermont have nothing left but time after this result – though it will nonetheless be time spent reflecting on a season of positive growth.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Pierre Lees-Melou (Brest)
With nothing riding on the game for either side, there was certainly an end-of-season feel to proceedings at the Allianz Riviera.
Apart from Thijs Dallinga’s tame effort from distance, there was not much to write home about until the Toulouse striker produced a far more purposeful effort on the half-hour mark. Mikkel Desler neatly cut the ball back into the path of the Dutchman, who stung the palms of Kasper Schmeichel.
Nice would have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle after Toulouse finished the first period on the front foot. Rafael Ratao had an effort cleared off the line before Fares Chaibi’s driven strike forced Schmeichel into a near-post save, ensuring the contest remained goalless at the break.
After failing to see an improvement from his Nice side in the opening stages of the second half, Didier Digard felt it was time to make a triple change. It nearly proved to be an inspired move when two of the three substitutes combined immediately to trouble Maxime Dupe. Melvin Bard’s inch-perfect pass was pulled out of the air by Sofiane Diop, who saw his shot kept out by the right foot of the Toulouse goalkeeper.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Gaetan Laborde attempted to add to his 12-goal league tally when he cut inside from the left flank and produced a powerful strike that was parried away by an outstretched Dupe.
Toulouse were forced to survive a late Nice onslaught that saw Terem Moffi go close on two occasions - the Nice forward was denied by the woodwork before losing out to Dupe in a promising one-on-one situation.
Ultimately, neither side was able to find a winner, as Toulouse avoided defeat for a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 away match for the first time since 2013-14. The point moves Nice up to ninth position for the time being, while the Coupe de France winners remain in 13th place after failing to find the net for a fourth straight game.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Maxime Dupe (Toulouse)
Reims had looked set to challenge for European football after an 18-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1 earlier in the campaign, but four defeats in their previous five outings prior to kick-off ended those hopes. However, Will Still's outfit were still looking to end their season on a high, and the visit of already-relegated Angers provided the perfect opportunity to begin doing so.
It took the hosts just 10 minutes to take the lead, as Japanese international Junya Ito received the ball on the edge of the box before drilling a low shot into the bottom-right corner.
The rest of the first half was a quiet affair, with neither team managing to test the opposition's goalkeeper, although the hosts seemed rather content to dominate possession without pushing for a second.
The visitors’ fate may already have been sealed, but they fought back to equalise just a minute after the restart. The goal came via Halid Sabanovic, who rifled the rebound into the top corner after Abdallah Sima hit the post.
Angers’ resurgence didn’t last long, though, as Reims restored their advantage in the 54th minute when Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun slotted beneath Yahiah Fofana inside the box.
However, Angers continued to show spirit, levelling again shortly after the hour mark. Winger Himad Abdelli was this time the goalscorer, for the first time this term, directing home a beautiful strike from the edge of the area.
The hosts looked the more likely of the two teams to grab a late winner, but it wasn’t to be as Angers managed to secure a point and end a run of six consecutive away defeats.
The result means little for the Ligue 1 standings, with Angers rooted to the bottom of the table, eight points adrift of 19th-placed AC Ajaccio, and Reims remaining in 11th place with two games remaining.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Himad Abdelli (SCO Angers)
Troyes manager Patrick Kisnorbo confirmed he would be “thinking of next season” for the final three games of the Ligue 1 season, after his side’s relegation was recently confirmed. And it appeared that the ESTAC defence also had their minds on the campaign ahead, as they carelessly allowed Habib Diallo an early sighter from a tight angle.
The visitors continued to build momentum with Diallo once again at the heart of the action, this time bringing a bouncing ball under his spell before sending an effort straight at Gauthier Gallon.
After almost 30 minutes of Strasbourg pressure, the visitors got a deserved lead when Habib Diarra carried the ball from his own half, before picking his spot from range to leave Gallon with no chance.
The hosts responded with a rare attack of their own, but Ike Ugbo’s lofted effort landed on the roof of the net following a well-timed run, ensuring Strasbourg remained ahead at the break.
The interval seemingly had little effect on the contest’s pattern of play, with Le Racing continuing to craft further goalscoring opportunities. Alexander Djiku narrowly headed wide minutes before Diarra rattled the underside of the crossbar with a fierce strike across goal.
A second Strasbourg goal appeared inevitable, but a red card apiece soon changed the complexion of the contest as Gallon and Djiku were each dismissed for professional fouls.
Captain Djiku’s indiscretion provided Rony Lopes with the perfect platform to level the scores from the resulting free-kick, duly claiming his fourth goal in seven meetings with Le Racing.
With the scores now level, the hosts looked far more accomplished as the game came to life in the final 20 minutes. Kyliane Dong, who won the all-important free-kick, was particularly lively, but despite the back-and-forth nature of the final minutes, there was ultimately nothing to separate the two sides.
The result sees Strasbourg inch closer to mathematical safety allowing Frederic Antonetti to look ahead to a seventh successive season in France’s top flight for his side, having guided Le Racing to an impressive 21 points during his 13-game stint in charge. Meanwhile, despite coming from behind, Troyes’ miserable run now stands at 19 league games without a win, the longest such streak across Europe’s top five divisions.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Habib Diarra (RC Strasbourg Alsace)