ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 15
Ligue 1’s African contingent have been blitzing up the division with a wealth of goals in recent weeks and the latest cluster of games were no different as Casimir Ninga and Almamy Toure both scored twice for their respective clubs.
Africa Football Shop’s Ligue 1 correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action; including how Almamy Toure went on a mesmerising run from the half way line to score a magnificent solo effort in Monaco’s 3-3 thriller with Marseille.
Following their mid-week Champions League exit after losing 2-1 at home to Gent, Lyon came into Friday’s match against Montpellier aiming to restore some pride by gaining ground on leaders PSG. Hubert Fournier’s men, however, were thwarted by a brace from Chad international Casimir Ninga, whose goals helped the visitors to a 4-2 win. Montpellier – seeking revenge after their two 5-1 defeats to Lyon last season – took the lead in the eighth minute through an own-goal by midfielder Maxime Gonalons, whose despairing right leg turned the ball past goalkeeper Anthony Lopes from Jerome Roussillon’s low, whipped cross. Ninga’s first effort came after the forward beat the offside trap to produce a smart finish in between Lopes’ legs. The home side grabbed a lifeline two minutes later when Alex Lacazette was on hand to head in a rebound from a corner. Near enough straight after the break, Ninga capitalised on a dreadful back pass by Brazilian defender Rafael to slot in his second of the game. Senegal international, Souleymane Camara, got in on the scoring act to make the points all but safe when he netted from a squared pass by Ryad Boudebouz at the second attempt. Algerian Rachid Ghezzal grabbed a consolation for Lyon with a left-footed free-kick which was placed to perfection, but it was not enough to prevent Montpellier snatching their third straight victory.
Almamy Toure scored twice in Monaco’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Marseille. Two first-half efforts from the Mali international had cancelled out Romain Alessandrini’s opener and put the visitors 2-1 up at half time. The teenage defender was unmarked to equalise from a free-kick with a low volley on the 18th minute. Despite Marseille nearly responding with an effort which hit the post, the 19-year-old right back went on a surging run from the half way line, beating two players before playing a one-two with Guido Carillo and supplying the finish past Steve Mandanda. That was the young defender’s third goal of the season. Michy Batshuayi levelled for the home side on 51 minutes, but Fabio Coentrao looked to have won it for Monaco on 72 minutes, until French-Cameroonian winger Georges-Kévin N’Koudou drilled his late effort past Danijel Subasic in the 82nd minute.
Syam Ben Youssef scored the first in Caen’s 4-1 thrashing away at Bordeaux and Gabonese midfielder André Poko saw red for the hosts. The resounding win lifted Caen to second in the Ligue 1 table, two points clear of Angers in third. Tunisia international, Ben Youssef, was alert to tap in a rebound in the sixth minute after an effort from Ronny Rodelin was parried by Cedric Carrasso in the path of the goal scorer. Damien Da Silva profited, just like Ben Youssef, to convert a rebound after Carrasso again failed to push the ball away to safety. The game went from bad to worse for the French stopper some five minutes later, when Da Silva’s header from a corner was headed off the line by a Bordeaux defender, which deflected off Carrasso’s body into the net for an own-goal courtesy of the stopper’s mid-drift. A fourth goal was scored by Andy Delort before Poko received his second yellow card in the 81st minute. Bordeaux grabbed a consolation on 90 minutes as Enzo Crivelli netted following good work from Nicolas Maurice-Belay.
GFC Ajaccio’s run of four straight wins came to an end as they drew 1-1 at home to Lorient. The away side – having previously been unbeaten in nine before their defeat to PSG in their last outing – had to rely on Ligue 1’s top scorer Benjamin Moukandjo to get them out of trouble as the home side took the lead. Tunisia international Mohamed Larbi produced a magnificent finish to find the net from a corner to score the first of the game on 18 minutes. That lead lasted a little over ten minutes, though, when Guinean defender Issiaga Sylla handled in the area, which presented Moukandjo with the chance to continue his fine goal scoring form from the penalty spot. Moukandjo calmly lifted the ball into the roof of the net to mark his eleventh goal of the campaign, one ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Ivorian defender Ismaël Traoré showed a striker’s instinct to turn the ball home for Angers’ second goal in their 2-0 defeat at home to Lille. Leading 1-0 thanks to Gilles Sunu’s opener from a set-piece, Traoré bundled in the ball from an in-swinging free-kick, which was flicked on by Senegal international Cheikh N’Doye and Traoré pounced to finish. That’s the way it stayed at the Stade Jean-Bouin as Angers secured their first win in six.
In other news, a goal from Algerian right back Aissa Mandi helped to halt Reims’ streak of six consecutive defeats as they drew 2-2 with Rennes. Trailing 1-0 after Jeremie Boga had given the away side the lead just before the half time interval, Mandi, unmarked from a free-kick, brought the ball down well before finding the bottom corner. Moustapha Bayal Sall was dismissed late on in St Etienne’s 3-0 win against Guingamp. At 2-0 heading in the 90th minute of the game, the Senegalese defender caught Jimmy Briand with his elbow whilst challenging for a header, which was adjudged by the referee to merit his second yellow card of the encounter. In the dying embers of the five minutes of stoppage time, the home side added a third through Nolan Roux.