ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 19
The talking point of this week’s round of fixtures was the cluster of goals scored by Ligue 1’s African contingent.
Africa Football Shop’s Ligue 1 correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action; including how Mohamed Larbi scored twice to sink Lyon in a result which leaves Hubert Fournier on the brink of the sack.
Floyd Ayite netted against his former club as Bastia came away with a 2-0 victory in a massive six-pointer against Reims. The Corsican side came into the encounter third from bottom, two points behind their opponents and the Togo international scored the game’s opener in the 21st minute. Seko Fofana, in his own half, released a well-executed through ball to the winger, who did the rest; Ayite burst through the Reims half at pace, cutting his way in from the left to hit a low, left-footed effort from outside the box which found the bottom corner, his third of the campaign. Ayite’s celebrations were short lived, though, the 27-year-old came off injured on the half-hour mark. Cape Verde international Odaïr Fortes squandered a great chance to equalise in the second-half, the player hit wide after bearing down clean through on goal. Julien Romain sealed his side’s victory, netting from a long punt upfield from goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca which was flicked-on by Brandão and the Frenchman finished. The result leaves Bastia in 16th place in Ligue 1, a point ahead of Reims who sit beneath them.
A brace from Mohamed Larbi added to the woes of Lyon – and manager Hubert Fournier – as Gazelec Ajaccio secured a 2-1 win at the Stade Ange-Cassanova. The away side were on their way for a fifth defeat in their last six games when the Tunisian notched his first just after the half-hour mark. After Lyon had lost possession, Larbi out-muscled Maxime Gonalons on the edge of the area, before turning and placing the ball into the far corner past Anthony Lopes. That was the midfielder’s fifth goal of the season. The Portuguese goalkeeper was made to work shortly afterwards, the stopper smothered an effort from DR Congo international, John Tshibumbu, after the striker bore down on goal following a scuffed shot from Jacques Zoua. Larbi, again beat Gonalons, the winger striding past the Frenchman – who unfortunately slipped – before slotting his second of the game. Clément Grenier did pull a goal back for Les Gones five minutes later, but Lyon failed to equalise. Ajaccio are now unbeaten in nine games, whilst Lyon are out of the top eight in ninth place.
Two Africans hit the target in a 1-1 draw between Bordeaux and Marseille. Togo international, Alaixys Romao, headed Marseille in front in the second-half, the player converting Abdelaziz Barrada’s corner. Bordeaux attacked clinically from the restart and replied immediately. Tunisia international, Wahbi Khazri, played a neat one-two with Enzo Crivelli before curling the ball beyond Steve Mandanda. Just when the hosts needed some inspiration, Khazri scored his first goal in 14 games to prevent his side slipping-up.
Giovanni Sio broke his ten-game goal drought with an effort in Rennes’ away win at Guingamp. It was the tale of two forwards as Sio and his strike-partner Ousmane Dembélé combined in both goals, the Ivorian playing in highly-rated youngster Ousmane Dembélé to break the deadlock just after the hour-mark. The teenager returned the favour in the 77th minute, deftly playing the ball through to Sio, who finished coolly past Jonas Lössl for his fifth of the season. Guingamp now languish in the relegation zone after the loss, whilst Rennes occupy seventh spot.
Sofiane Boufal scored a late equaliser in Lille’s 1-1 draw with Toulouse. Wissam Ben Yedder gave the hosts the lead at the Stadium Municipal on 11 minutes, slotting past Nigerian stopper Vincent Enyeama from close-range. Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia was brought on for Toulouse at half-time, but the player was sent off just 22 minutes later after receiving his second yellow card for an elbow on Éric Bauthéac. Lille, with renewed vigour, made their numerical advantage count, Moroccan winger Boufal fired into the top corner with a stunning effort from the edge of the area. The goal was well-worked as Boufal and Sebastien Corchia waltzed into the area before the Frenchman set up the goal scorer for his emphatic finish.