Ligue 1 roundup: Reims continue to impress, Brest claim crucial win

Ligue 1 roundup: Reims continue to impress, Brest claim crucial win
Reims continue to impress
Reims continue to impress
Stade de Reims extended their unbeaten away record in Ligue 1 under the stewardship of Will Still to 11 matches, Angers SCO showed some fight against OGC Nice and held the top eight side to a 1-1 draw, Stade Brestois 29 registered only their third home success of the campaign to move one point clear of the relegation zone, while Clermont Foot moved 11 points clear.

Angers 1-1 Nice

Despite all their troubles on and off the field, Angers started the game really well and were looking to secure a double win over Nice. Home captain, Nabil Bentaleb, who was the match-winner in the return fixture, tested the palms of visiting goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel in an early attack. However, Angers’ problems have stemmed at the back and with the visitors first attack they got on the scoresheet as Gaëtan Laborde squared a pass for Lorient loanee, Terem Moffi to tap home. Moments later, Aaron Ramsey went close by firing over the bar after a Khéphren Thuram pass. Despite the dominance of the visitors, Angers equalised when a mistake at the back from Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo saw Ibrahima Niane react quickest to level. This seemed to give the home side some heart, as defender Batista Mendy almost gave Angers the lead when he fired a long-range effort inches wide of Schmeichel’s post.

The second period started with the home side on top again as Schmeichel saved well from a Bentaleb drive. However, the visitors seemed to wake up from the lazy start to the half and forced Angers goalkeeper Paul Bernadoni into a brilliant save from Laborde’s header. Former Tottenham and Schalke midfielder Bentaleb was getting more involved in the game and saw his free-kick saved well by Schmeichel.

Angers’ defence have conceded the most goals in Ligue 1 this season, but they stood firm in the final stages of the fixture to claim their first point in the league since February. Despite this, Angers are still 15 points adrift from fifth bottom place in the table. This point for the visitors saw them move further away from the top five with seven points separating Nice from the European places.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Nabil Bentaleb (Angers SCO)

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Brest 3-1 Toulouse

Despite having one eye on Thursday’s cup semi-final at Annecy, Toulouse put themselves in pole position after just 10 minutes of play in Brittany. Undergoing a prolific season in front of goal, after already reaching a double-digit return for the 2022/23 Ligue 1 campaign, Thijs Dallinga could not have asked for a better cross from fellow countryman Branco van den Boomen, as the Dutch Under-21 international nodded his side into the lead from close range.

With Brest recovering a league-low one point from the 12 prior league games to see them concede first, and Dallinga a winner in seven of his previous eight competitive goalscoring matches, few would have expected what was to come next. Determined to defy those daunting trends, Brest came within inches of levelling after a quarter-hour period that saw them settle into more of a rhythm, as Jérémy Le Douaron’s header struck the underside of the bar.

And Brest’s persistence was finally rewarded just after the half-hour mark, when Steve Mounié rose above Toulouse’s defence to send Romain Del Castillo’s corner past Maxime Dupé. That aside, the remainder of the first half - and the early second-half minutes - were evenly-fought and mostly scrappy. But Brest completed their comeback in the 63rd minute, as Le Douaron atoned for his earlier botch against the woodwork, heading past Dupé to seemingly give Brest their first comeback victory in Ligue 1 action since December 2021.

Less than 60 seconds after referee Stéphanie Frappart had given Toulouse’s Mikkel Desler his marching orders for a second yellow card, substitute Mahdi Camara secured Brest’s victory with a third-headed goal for the hosts on the afternoon. Franck Honorat sent a cross in from a free-kick, and the Saint-Étienne loanee connected on the edge of the six-yard box to guide the ball inside the left post to seal the three points once and for all.

The result represents Brest's first victory in front of their supporters since late January, as Les Pirates prepare to make the expedition to Stade Auguste Delaune to face Reims in a week's time. Meanwhile, Toulouse remain nine points above the Ligue 1 trapdoor, but look unlikely to be dragged into an end-of-season relegation battle, despite being beaten for a fifth time in six league matches.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Franck Honorat (Stade Brestois 29)

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Clermont 2-1 AC Ajaccio

Clermont’s early-season form has kept them out of the relegation battle for much of the campaign, but Pascal Gastien knew that his side needed to improve on their displays in recent matches if they wanted to avoid being sucked into danger. Heeding his wishes, they started much the better side, and Jim Allevinah went close with a long-range drive, the shot skimming just past Benjamin Leroy’s near post.

It appeared as though the home side had a confident hold on the game, but their reliance on keeping possession in their own half would come to hurt them. Unlike their opponents, Ajaccio were in deep trouble at the foot of the league, and it was Kevin Spadanuda’s desire to improve their situation which allowed him to nick the ball off a complacent Cheick Oumar Konaté. Mounaïm El Idrissy reacted, and he was well clear of the defence as he slid the ball underneath Mory Diaw for the opener. In disbelief at their going behind, Clermont tried to muster a response, and the home fans were out of their seats as Allevinah met a Neto Borges cross with a diving header, but the Gabonese couldn’t quite steer on target.

The second half promised Les Lanciers a chance to reset, and they started to play with greater urgency. Elbasan Rashani’s looping header was denied brilliantly by Leroy, but it was a fantastic passage of play which resulted in an equaliser for the Auvergne side. Some fluid one-touch passing allowed Neto Borges to storm forwards from left-back, and referee Mathieu Vernice pointed to the spot when he was taken down by Clément Vidal as he arrived in the penalty area. Kyei stepped up, placing into the bottom corner while sending Leroy the opposite way. There was a further boost for the home side, too, as Mohamed Youssouf was given his marching orders for a stamp on Maxime Gonalons, with the Comorian defender having been on the pitch for little more than 10 minutes.

Clermont had been far superior to their opponents, and they were given the golden opportunity to complete the comeback when Mickaël Alphonse was caught out for holding in the area, and a penalty was once again awarded. And it was a similar outcome, as Kyei calmly dispatched, becoming the hero for Clermont as they earned all three points. Having given up the lead, Ajaccio will now travel back to Corsica to face fellow strugglers Auxerre with the unwanted record of having lost 11 of their last 13 league matches.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Grejohn Kyei (Clermont Foot)

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Nantes 0-3 Reims

Having suffered a first league defeat under Still last time out, Reims looked to respond in positive fashion against a struggling Nantes side, sitting just six points clear of the relegation zone. However, it was the hosts who edged a closely-fought opening half-hour, with Moses Simon and Moussa Sissoko both seeing efforts superbly thwarted by Yehvann Diouf in the Reims goal.

After a cagey start, the visitors gradually grew into the match and came within inches of taking the lead when Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun fired against the woodwork from the edge of the box. Undeterred by the near miss, Reims continued to threaten a breakthrough before HT, and remarkably found the net twice in the space of two minutes as Alexis Flips clinically dispatched a pair of close-range efforts, giving the visitors a commanding lead going into the interval.

Armed with the momentum, Reims looked to press home their advantage in the early stages of the second half, but Alban Lafont stood firm to thwart a low strike from the impressive Balogun. The respite for Nantes however, was short-lived, as the dominant visitors added a third before the hour mark through Marshall Munetsi, who tapped home after Balogun saw another effort cannon against the bar.

Having failed to win any of their last five league matches (D2, L3), a comeback always seemed unlikely for the hosts, but Nantes refused to give up during the final 20 minutes, with Diouf called into action to deny Andy Delort. Despite their late improvement, the damage was long done for the hosts, as Reims coasted through to the final whistle to secure a convincing three points. The result sees the visitors rise to seventh, six points adrift of the European spots, while Nantes remain 14th, with just four points separating them and 17th-placed Auxerre.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Folarin Balogun (Stade de Reims)

See all the match stats here


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