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Ligue 1 Review Gameweek 31

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Some shock results occurred in the weekend’s Ligue 1 fixtures as the sides are fighting for the highest possible finish to the campaign.

Marseille 2-5 Rennes

Marseille were stunned on Friday evening as they suffered a 5-2 home defeat to European challengers Rennes. Despite the visitors’ impressive run of form, few would have expected them to win in such emphatic fashion as they struck a huge blow to Marseille’s hope of a top six finish. Yoann Gourcuff broke the deadlock after just four minutes with a header, and Fallou Diagne and Ousmane Dembele shocked Les Olympiens as they both scored to give Rennes a three-goal lead with only 15 minutes on the clock.

The hosts did give themselves hope; Florian Thauvin pulled a goal back just five minutes after Rennes’ third, before Roland scored to set up an exciting finish at the Stade Vélodrome. The vision of a comeback soon vanished as Gourcuff scored his second of the game and Marseille’s fourth. An excellent Rennes display was then complete in the 77th-minute as Giovanni Sio made it five. The win leaves Rennes in 5th with a tight grasp on a place in the top six, whereas Marseille are all the way down in 12th, just six points above the bottom three after failing to win for the seventh consecutive game.

Saint-Étienne 3-0 Montpellier

This result could prove to be pivotal for both Saint-Étienne and Montpellier as they are desperately trying to rack up the points at opposite ends of the table. It was Les Verts’ first win in six attempts and it kept them within a point of the European spots in 7th. Meanwhile Montpellier failed to score for a third successive game and remain 16th, but can be thankful they are not closer to the relegation zone as the sides below them also lost. Saint-Étienne left it very late to score the three goals; the first didn’t arrive until the 74th-minute.

Nolan Roux opened the scoring with a close-range header after Jean-Christophe Bahebeck’s effort was directed into his path. The second goal came from substitute Oussama Tannane who scored with his first touch of the ball after Roux turned provider to set him up. Valentin Eysseric then made the scoreline even more resounding by adding a third, giving Saint-Étienne a much-needed win and keeping Montpellier just three points above the danger zone.

Angers 5-1 Lorient

Another side that was desperate for a win is Angers, who had lost five of their last seven before welcoming Lorient to the Stade Jean Bouin. Lorient had been enjoying a good run of form but they were pegged back by a rampant Angers team as the hosts strode to a 5-1 thrashing. It took just 14 minutes for the home side to get on the score sheet; Billy Ketkeophomphone scored the opener with a crisp strike, before Thomas Mangani headed Angers into a two-goal lead.

Mangani then had a hand in the third goal, teeing up Roman Saiss to score shortly before the half-time interval. There was still time for a Lorient goal however; an unfortunate slip from Alexandre Letellier allowed Majeed Waris to score for Les Merlus, giving the visitors a chance of rescuing a result. The game remained open for the majority of the second half but Cheikh N’Doye secured the win with less than ten minutes to play, and there was still time for Mangani to add a fifth from the spot after Lindsay Rose conceded a penalty. Angers sit 10th in the Ligue 1 standings with four points between them and the top six, while Lorient are 13th.

Caen 2-1 Troyes

Troyes may have lost another game but they live to fight another day as none of the teams above them won, so they can still mathematically survive. The visitors will feel they should have done better at the Stade Michel d’Ornano after letting a lead slip and going on to lose the match. Xavier Thiago headed Troyes in front midway through the first half, converting from Benjamin Nivet’s corner.

The lead lasted no longer than 13 minutes through as Caen fought back through Alaeddine Yahia, who turned a Julien Feret set piece home. Caen then began the second period as they finished the first, taking the lead through a Ronny Rodelin header just eight minutes into the half. The hosts climbed to 6th in the league table after Nantes dropped points, but Troyes are still 19 points from safety at the bottom of the league, with only 21 points left to play for.

Lille 1-0 Toulouse

Hosts Lille made another step to securing a top six finish after winning their third game in a row, albeit a narrow victory over strugglers Toulouse. Les Dogues are just three points short of the European spots in 9th, whereas Les Pitchouns are still 19th as they couldn’t follow up their impressive performance against Bordeaux with another win.

The only goal of the game arrived on the 17th-minute mark; Morgan Amalfitano capitalised on a defensive error before striking the ball past the goalkeeper. Wissam Ben Yedder had a chance to equalise in the second half before Lille had goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama to thank once again, as he denied Tongo Doumbia to keep his side’s lead intact.

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Reims 0-1 Guingamp

Guingamp came out on top in the battle near the bottom of the table as they beat fellow strugglers Reims by a small margin. Younousse Sankhare scored the only goal of the match as he showed great strength to get away from Abdelhamid El Kaoutari before finishing from a tight angle.

The hosts failed to create chances throughout the match but the closest they came was quite early on. Nicolas De Preville hit the crossbar with a well-hit strike from 40 yards, but a lot can be said about Reims’ performance considering that was their best opportunity of the match. They did have a chance later on but Lass Bangoura’s shot was light work from Jonas Lossl in the Guingamp goal. The win took Guingamp to 15th, five points above Reims in 17th place.

Lyon 2-0 Nantes

In their bid of securing Champions League football, Lyon made another step to keep upping the pressure on Monaco with a comfortable victory over Nantes. It was a well-fought victory for Les Gones as they had to wait until the 83rd-minute to break the deadlock. Les Canaris proved to be extremely resilient against an in-form Lyon side, keeping out a strong strike force for nearly the full 90 minutes. Rachid Ghezzal came close for Lyon in the first half but his effort form range hit the bar via a deflection. Samuel Umtiti and Corentin Tolisso also missed chances to open the scoring.

Nantes rarely threatened the Lyon goal but Guillaume Gillet had their best chance, which was no real test for Anthony Lopes. Despite Nantes’ stubbornness, Lyon found a way through as Gaetan Perrin headed home in the final ten minutes to crush Nantes’ hearts. Alexandre Lacazette then rubbed salt in the wounds in injury time as he added a second from the spot after Jordan Ferri was brought down by Yacine Bammou. Lyon remain 4th but Nantes have slipped to 8th.

Bordeaux 1-1 Bastia

Bordeaux were held to a draw at home by Bastia, as Ulrich Rame’s first match in charge of Les Girondins ended inadequately. The home player left the field to a large number of disgruntled fans booing as they conceded late to let the three points slip. Bordeaux scored a late goal themselves to take the lead; Diego Contento struck a great attempt from distance to give the hosts the lead with eight minutes to play.

Teams tend to be most vulnerable after taking the lead and this proved to be the case with Bordeaux as Bastia equalised just three minutes later. Axel N’Gando headed the visitors level from a Gael Danic cross to give Bastia a point to travel home with. The late draw sees Bastia 11th in the Ligue 1 standings, whereas Bordeaux are down in 14th, just six points above the drop zone.

Nice 3-0 Gazélec Ajaccio

Nice stay 3rd as they continued their push for a place in next season’s Champions League with a win over Gazélec as they kept the pressure on Monaco.. Gazélec are fortunate that no sides around them picked up points, meaning only goal difference separates them from safety. Les Aiglons set the pace of the game early on when Hatem Ben Arfa scored in the 14th-minute; it was a trademark goal from Ben Arfa, cutting in on his favoured left foot before finishing expertly.

The goal scorer then provided the assist for Nice’s second of the game; Ben Arfa released Alassane Plea who took the ball around Clement Maury to double his side’s lead. All three points were secured in the latter stages when Valerie Germain drove a ball across the box for Jean Seri to tap in a third. This win sets up an exciting finish to the season and one slip up could be vital in the race for the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain 0-2 Monaco

Monaco dealt a blow to the sides in pursuit of their Champions League spot as they pulled off a surprise victory at Champions PSG. Both Lyon and Nice were hoping to have closed the gap on Monaco, but Leonardo Jardim’s side won at the Parc des Princes as Les Parisians lost their first home league match since May 2014. After already securing the title, PSG took their feet off the gas as they lacked the pressure needed to the win the game.

The first goal came just past the hour-mark when Vagner Love scored from Thomas Lemar’s delivery. PSG’s evening got worse less than three minutes later when David Luiz conceded a penalty after fouling Fabinho; the Brazilian coolly dispatched the spot-kick. The home side were responsible for a number of missed opportunities as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unusually wasteful and Jean Kevin-Augustin failed to take his chance in the latter stages. This was Les Parisian’s second defeat of the season and it came in the week after winning the title against Troyes. Monaco remain 2nd heading into the next round of fixtures, but this win means they are now just as close to PSG’s points tally as they are to the relegation zone.

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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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