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Ligue 1 Review Gameweek 21

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The top flight saw a number of goals at the weekend as the relegation battle and the race for the European spots heats up.

Nice 2-1 Angers

The opening match of the weekend was one between two surprise European contenders, as Nice edged past Angers at home. The visitors were content to sit back in the first half and let Nice dominate possession, but they managed to get in front before the break through Pierrick Capelle. Romain Saiss’ long pass split the Nice defence and Capelle showed great composure to take advantage.

Nice got back on level terms in controversial fashion; Hatem Ben Arfa was adjudged to have been brought down by Ismael Traore in the penalty area. He converted the resulting spot-kick to end his ten-game goalless run. More bad luck for Angers was to follow as Vincent Manceau handled the ball in the box to concede another penalty just three minutes later and Ben Arfa needed no second invitation to give Les Aiglons the lead. Angers and Nice are now 3rd and 4th respectively but Nice have closed the gap to just one point.

Toulouse 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain

PSG maintain their 21-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 with a narrow victory over strugglers Toulouse. Les Pitchouns were looking to progress after their win against Reims in the previous fixture but it was always going to be a tough ask against the champions.

There are positive signs for Toulouse however, as they were able to keep Les Parisians at bay for well over an hour. The only disappointing thing for them is that PSG did manage to make the breakthrough; Zlatan Ibrahimovic added another goal to his season’s tally with a header following a set piece. The three points will be all that concerns Laurent Blanc, regardless of the margin of victory, while Toulouse can take a lot of positives out of this game.

Bastia 1-0 Montpellier

Another narrow win went in the favour of Bastia as they overcame Montpellier in a must-win game. The home side knew they had to get the three points to move clear of Montpellier and give themselves some breathing space from the relegation zone. It was a long wait for the deadlock to be broken but Bastia took the lead in the second half. Some great build-up play from Julien Palmieri and Florian Marange was beneficial for Floyd Ayite who scored the only goal of the game.

Seko Fofana made it difficult for Bastia when he was dismissed for clashing with Jonas Martin. Montpellier’s advantage was then reduced when Daniel Congre was also sent off, ending their hope of a comeback. The home side’s victory took them to 15th in the table, three points ahead of Montpellier in 16th.

Bordeaux 1-0 Lille

Bordeaux’s revival of form takes them to nine games unbeaten with this win against Lille, ending Lille’s own run of five games without defeat. The first half was fairly even with neither side asserting their dominance, but it was Les Girondins who drew first blood in the 51st-minute. Wahbi Khazri did brilliantly to pick out Cheikh Diabate who headed in the opener.

Junior Tallo’s deflected effort was the closest Lille game to breaking down the Bordeaux defence but the shot just fell the wrong side of the post. The hosts nearly extended their lead later on in the game when Khazri’s well-struck free-kick beat Vincent Enyeama, only to see his attempt hit the crossbar. Bordeaux have climbed up to 10th place, just three points from the top six and Lille have dropped to 14th.

Gazélec Ajaccio 2-2 Reims

Gazélec’s second consecutive 2-2 draw saw them go above Lille in the league standings, moving up to 13th as their unbeaten run continues. Reims remain in relegation trouble however and they can be thankful Guingamp and Toulouse failed to win to see them fall into the bottom three. Aissa Mandi teed up Boutaib for the opening goal as Gazélec took the lead within the first two minutes. The lead lasted just over a quarter of an hour though as Nicolas De Preville was played in by Jordan Siebatcheu to level the scores.

Reims then went ahead shortly past the hour-mark; De Preville got on the score sheet for the second time with a fine finish, lofting the ball over Clement Maury. The hosts got back in the game not long after through Damjan Djokovic who needed no second invitation to equalise after Mohamed Larbi’s header came back off the post. If Gazélec can keep up this form they will undoubtedly stay up but Reims need to improve if they are going to survive.

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Guingamp 2-2 Nantes

Guingamp let slip a two-goal lead and a much needed three points as Nantes came back to earn a share of the spoils. Nicolas Benezet gave the hosts the lead when a great cross from Yannis Salibur provided him with a comfortable finish at the back post. The two players then swapped roles with Benezet turning provider and Salibur becoming the goal scorer to double the home side’s lead.

Les Canaris’ first goal came from an unlikely source; Guingamp’s Christophe Kerbrat was the unfortunate one to put the ball past his own keeper to reduce the lead. They then rescued a point with little time to play as Youssouf Sabaly equalised for Nantes. Guingamp’s day got worse in stoppage time when Younousse Sankhare was dismissed after clashing with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. Guingamp will be disappointed to remain 18th in the league while Nantes drop down to 11th.

Troyes 2-4 Rennes

Another team that will be disappointed once again is Troyes, who are 12 points adrift at the bottom of Ligue 1 and 14 points away from safety. Rennes however move into the top six as they were able to take advantage of Caen and Lyon’s slip-ups. Troyes had a great opportunity to get their first win of the season but let their two-goal lead slip. The hosts raced into the lead within the first 15 minutes; first Fabien Camus fired an excellent strike into the top corner before Corentin Jean added a second.

Rennes eventually woke up and comfortably started playing, troubling the Troyes defence. Ousmane Dembele scored in between two Fallou Diagne penalties, ensuring the visitors had a 3-2 lead at half-time. With Troyes struggling to cope with the Rennes pressure, Kamil Grosicki came off the bench to score a fourth after finishing from a tight angle. This was Troyes’ best chance to get three points and they may never get a better one.

Lorient 0-2 Monaco

Monaco’s recent form has seen them climb to 2nd in the league table while Lorient’s fourth game without a win leaves them in 12th. Lorient had the better of the early chances but they found themselves a goal down as Monaco took the lead through Thomas Lemar; his effort just crossed the line after rebounding off the crossbar.

It took the visitors less than five minutes to double their lead. Joao Moutinho directed his free-kick beyond a helpless Benjamin Lecomte. As the game progressed, Monaco began to apply more and more pressure on the Lorient goal and they would have extended their lead if it wasn’t for Lecomte. Guido Carrillo and Mario Pasalic both saw their efforts saved in the latter stages of the game.

Caen 1-3 Marseille

The European battle is becoming even tighter with Lyon and Caen slipping up, as Marseille moved up to 8th within two points of the top six, just one point behind Caen in 7th. Les Olympiens took the lead through Michy Batshuayi, whose effort just made it past the goal-line before being cleared. It was a long time before Marseille doubled their lead; Batshuayi turned provider for Georges-Kevin N’Koudou who squeezed his attempt just inside the post.

Ronny Rodelin did manage to pull a goal back for Caen when he headed the ball past Steve Mandanda, giving the hosts some slight hope of a comeback. The hope was soon dashed though as Bouna Sarr’s late volley secured all three points for Marseille, giving them a real boost of retaining a European spot ahead of next season.

Saint-Étienne 1-0 Lyon

The final match of the weekend was between two inconsistent sides; Saint-Étienne and Lyon were difficult to separate but it was the hosts who came away with the much needed victory. Christophe Galtier’s side had managed just one win in five before this game but a Alexander Soderlund volley earned maximum points for Les Verts.

There is always a huge rivalry between these two sides and the Lyon fans were actually refused the right to attend this match due to trouble caused in previous encounters. Rachid Ghezzal continued to cause problems for the Saint-Étienne defence but Les Gones could not find a way past Stephane Ruffier. The missed chances came back to haunt Lyon as Soderlund fired the home side into the lead and won the match for Saint-Étienne. This takes them up to 5th in the league but Lyon are struggling down in 9th.

About Mark Sheppard

I am an 18-year-old Journalism and Media student at De Montfort University, Leicester. I enjoy writing, especially about sport because my interests involve football, snooker, rugby, F1 and tennis.

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