ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 13
Returning to action after scoring a brace against Guingamp in his last outing Ligue 1’s in-form African Benjamin Moukandjo continued from where he left off and fired a further two goals against Troyes.
Africa Football Shop’s Ligue 1 correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action; including how a wonder goal from Jacques Zoua helped GFC Ajaccio to their third consecutive Ligue 1 victory.
Benjamin Moukandjo scored twice as Lorient continued their fine form in Ligue 1 with a 4-1 win over Troyes. Les Merlus sit seventh in the table on 20 points, one point off sixth-placed Nice. Benjamin Jeannot gave his side a 1-0 lead going into half time when he scored on 33 minutes. The French forward capitalised on a mix-up at the back from Mouhamadou Dabo, the French defender failed to deal with a high ball which left young goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni stranded and the striker had the easiest of tasks to prod into an empty net. The prospect of a sixth consecutive defeat became inevitable for the away side when a great piece of skill from Yan Jouffre down the right picked out the unmarked Moukandjo who headed home his eighth goal of the campaign at the back post. Senegal international Lamine Gassama handed Troyes the opportunity to reply to the two-goal deficit when he handled in the area to concede a penalty. Benjamin Nivet did just that as he sent Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way. As Troyes pushed in search for an equaliser, Lorient exploited the space on the counterattack when Moukandjo slid in Gabonese midfielder Didier Ndong to restore his side’s two-goal cushion. Cameroonian forward Moukandjo turned provider to scorer in the dying embers of the tie when he converted a penalty to seal his second brace in a row.
GFC Ajaccio secured their third consecutive Ligue 1 win with a 2-1 victory away at Reims. The away side – having previously moved off the foot of the table with wins against Nice and Bordeaux – grabbed the opener on 34 minutes when striker Khalid Boutaib dinked the ball over onrushing Togolese goalkeeper Kossi Agassa on the half volley. A fine acrobatic effort from Jacques Zoua produced a smart stop from Agassa shortly afterwards, which kept the confident visitors at bay. But Agassa was helpless to prevent a stunning effort from Zoua in the second half when the striker fired in a powerful drive from distance which found the corner of the net. The quality of the goal belied Ajaccio’s low position in the division as Zoua latched onto a raking ball from Issiaga Sylla before teeing himself up for the scintillating shot. Grejohn Kyei bagged a late consolation for the hosts, who capitalised on some sloppy defending from Ajaccio, but the defeat left Olivier Guegan’s men in 14th spot on 15 points while Ajaccio remain in the relegation zone, level on points with 17th-placed Montpellier.
Herve Renard’s Lille took on Bastia at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy knowing that his side needed a win to keep away from the relegation zone. Goals have been hard to come by for the home side this season – at the start of play Lille had a measly record of six in 12 games – but they came close to scoring early on when Sofiane Boufal’s low drive hit the post. But it was the Corsican side who broke the deadlock in the second half through Gael Danic. Togo international, Floyd Ayite, did well on the left edge of the area to pull the ball back for Danic, who clinically dispatched in the 73rd minute. Lille’s test to level the scoreline was made tougher seven minutes from time when Moroccan winger Boufal was shown a straight red for a stamp on Mathieu Peybernes. Djibril Sidibe – a second half substitute – repaid manager Renard’s faith as he slotted in a dramatic late equaliser. The young Frenchmen placed a right-footed effort past the outstretched dive of Jean-Louis Leca after being put through by a perfectly weighted ball from Morocco international, Mounir Obbadi.
In other news, Angers slipped to their first home defeat since their promotion to the French top-flight as Rennes claimed a 2-0 victory at the Stade Jean-Bouin. Philippe Montanier’s side – without a win in eight games – took the lead inside the first five minutes when midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure headed home from short range. Doucoure, a Rennes academy graduate of Malian descent, arrived well to meet Pedro Henrique’s cross to give his side an early lead. Ivory Coast international, Ismael Traore, missed a glorious opportunity to bring Angers level just after the restart. The defender spurned his effort over the bar from four yards. Gelson Fernandes made Traore pay for his miss as he finished off a Rennes counterattack on the hour mark.
AFS AFRICAN LIGUE 1 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: BENJAMIN MOUKANDJO