ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 18
In the penultimate round of fixtures before Christmas Ligue 1 showed no sign of let up or wind down as two Africans were sent off and five scored for their respective clubs.
Africa Football Shop’s Ligue 1 correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action; including how Souleymane Camara came off the bench to completely turnaround Montpellier’s game against Guingamp.
Goals from Souleymane Camara and Cassimir Ninga helped Montpellier to come from behind and claim a fifth home win in six with a 2-1 defeat of ten-man Guingamp. Following Sloan Privat’s initial effort on 32 minutes and Nicolas Benezet’s dismissal two minutes later – a somewhat harsh refereeing decision – Senegalese striker Camara reduced the arrears in the 54th minute. The second half substitute glanced in a header from a delicious, in-swinging ball from Ryad Boudebouz for his fourth of the season. Camara was pulling all the strings for the hosts and played a huge part in Ninga’s winning goal, the Senegal international turning beautifully into the area before squaring for the Chad international to slot in his fifth goal in four games eight minutes later.
Right back Serge Aurier scored in leaders PSG’s 5-1 rout against Lyon. Les Parisiens came into the tie unbeaten in Ligue 1 and 14 points clear of chasers Angers and Monaco. Zlatan Ibrahimovic capitalised on a poor header from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to slot under the body of Anthony Lopes for his and his side’s first of the game in the 11th minute. Ivory Coast international Aurier couldn’t miss from short-range after being picked out by a wicked free-kick from Angel Di Maria for PSG’s second. Kevin Trapp failed to keep out a 25-yard hit from Jordan Ferri as Lyon pulled a goal back with 24 minutes on the clock. Edinson Cavani hooked in a third before a penalty from Ibrahimovic and a fifth from Lucas Moura in stoppage time annihilated Hubert Fournier’s team’s hopes of coming back into the game.
Caen travelled to Rennes on Friday hoping to move, at least temporarily, up to second place in Ligue 1. Benin international Emmanuel Imorou received the first of a number of red cards in week 18, the defender hauling down Ivorian forward Giovanni Sio – who was bearing down on goal outside the area – to receive a straight red. The home side started the second half with greater urgency and nearly made their numerical advantage count when Sio hit the post from a tight angle after Remy Vercoutre had done well to parry a shot away from the danger area. But, despite his earlier good work, the goalkeeper had a moment to forget, the Frenchman letting Juan Quintero’s tame effort squirm through his legs. Tunisia international Syam Ben Youssef stole a point from his side, the centre back netting his third goal of the season after volleying home from a corner. The result leaves Caen in fourth, a point adrift of third-placed Monaco.
Jacques Zoua scored the opening goal in Ajaccio’s 1-1 draw with Marseille at the Stade Velodrome. The Cameroon international was offered the chance to stun the home side in the 19th minute when Benjamin Mendy was adjudged to have pulled down Senegal international, Issiar Dia. Zoua did just that by cooly rolling the ball into the bottom corner to mark his fourth goal of the campaign. Michy Batshuayi levelled for Michel’s side, heading in his 14th goal of the season on 37 minutes. This occurred before Marseille were reduced to ten men when Abdelaziz Barrada was shown a contentious red card for a tackle on DR Congo international, John Tshibumbu.
In other news, Algeria international Aissa Mandi was dismissed four minutes into added time in Reims’ 1-1 draw with Nice at the Stade Auguste-Delaune. After Valerie Germain had given the away side the lead and Diego had levelled the scoreline on 78 minutes from the spot, Reims’ captain was given a straight red card. Togo international Floyd Ayite had a big hand in Bastia’s opening goal against Troyes. The midfielder did well down the left, jinking his was into the area before pulling the ball back for Seko Fofana to finish. The tie finished one apiece after Jimmy Cabot equalised for the hosts with 59 minutes on the board. Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama kept another clean sheet for Lille, his side beat Lorient 3-0 at home.
AFS African Ligue 1 Player of the Week: Souleymane Camara