ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 26
It is fair to say that Ligue 1’s latest round of action has been marred by the off-field antics of Paris Saint-Germain’s Ivorian full-back, Serge Aurier; the player shamed himself by making alleged homophobic comments – directed at manager Laurent Blanc and a handful of his team-mates – on Saturday evening. The player has been suspended by the club, with Aurier since issuing an apology.
But this disgraced slur should take nothing away from the performance of the league’s fellow Africans; Africa Football Shop’s French football correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action – including how Aurier’s fellow African full-back Samuel Umtiti was involved in Lyon’s 4-1 rout of Caen.
Montpellier made strides to move out of the bottom three, thanks to goals from Mustapha Yatabare and Souleymane Camara, which secured a 2-0 victory at home to Toulouse. Malian striker Yatabare capped a lovely, flowing move on the 24th minute; Senegalese Camara was played in off the shoulder of a traipsing defender, before cutely pulling the ball back for his strike partner to net from short-range. The tricky Camara hit the target himself right at the death; the forward converted a delicious corner from Algerian Ryad Boudebouz at the near-post.
Lyon demolished Caen to mount their hunt for a top-four finish. Last season’s runners-up opened the deadlock, Samuel Umtiti being in the right place at the right time to sweep home Corentin Tolisso’s flick, from Mathieu Valbuena’s free-kick. Ivory Coast-born Maxwel Cornet was the second African to score, the midfielder clinically angling his effort past Remy Vercoutre, after Alexandre Lacazette doubled Lyon’s lead. Andy Delort did peg a goal back for Caen, before Tolisso restored his side’s three goal cushion, seven minutes from time. Les Gones sit fifth, a point off third.
An own-goal from Congo international, Arnold Bouka Moutou, sank Angers to their third defeat on the bounce; the midfielder’s misfortune came in stoppage time in his side’s 1-0 defeat away at Rennes. The player was defending a corner, whipped in by Paul-Georges Ntep, with the midfielder seemingly losing his bearings and unintentionally diverting the ball past goalkeeper, Denis Petrić. Both sides have been harbouring hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, but the result leaves Rennes in the ascendency, a point behind sixth-placed Nantes, on 38 points. Angers’ recent set-back, however, leaves them eighth, on 37 points.
Bottom club Troyes grabbed just their second win of the season against fellow strugglers Gazelec Ajaccio, in a frenetic end-to-end goal-fest – which finished 3-2 to the visiting team. Cameroonian, Jacques Zoua, notched the first for Ajaccio early on from a corner in the first minute. This was before Frenchman, Karim Azamoum, turned the game on its head, setting-up the equaliser and scoring twice before the break – making it 3-1 to Troyes at half-time. Tunisian midfielder, Chaouki Ben Saada, also had a hand in the turnaround, the player latching onto Azamoum’s fine through-ball before rounding the oncoming goalkeeper and dispatching into an empty net from a tight angle, marking his second start of the campaign with a goal. The roles were reversed later in the half, Ben Saada teeing-up Azamoum to fire in his first from the edge of the area. Rodéric Filippi grabbed a goal back for Ajaccio in the second-half, following Azamoum’s second.
In other news, Mali international, Cheick Diabaté, got on the scoresheet late on in Bordeaux’s thumping 4-2 away win at Guingamp. Leading 3-2 and approaching the 90th minute, Diabaté unleashed a bullet header, which made the win comfortable. Despite his side’s 2-1 loss against Nantes, Lorient’s Benjamin Moukandjo ended his 11-game goal drought, by scoring from the spot. The Cameroon international sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, scoring his 12th of the season – which proved no more than a consolation. Any faint hopes of a Lorient late equaliser were dampened six minutes later, as Lamine Gassama received a straight red card for a reckless challenge.
Reims’ Malian right-back, Hamari Traore, was luckless in helping the ball into his own net and costing his side a 1-0 defeat at home to Bastia. This occurred after goalkeeper Johny Placide spilled Togo international Floyd Ayite’s shot. Moustapha Bayal Sall scored in fourth-placed St Etienne’s 1-1 draw with Monaco. The striker headed home just before the hour-mark to give his side the lead. This was until Vagner Love struck his first goal for the visitors late on to earn his side a share of the spoils, certainly spreading the romance on Valentine’s Day.