ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1 – Week 25
With the January transfer window slamming shut and the half-way mark of the season crossed, there is much to play for in Ligue 1 – whether it be sides’ dreams to qualify for Europe, survive the drop, or, more importantly, challenge the pace-setters PSG at the top of the table.
Africa Football Shop’s Ligue 1 correspondent, Jamie Barlow, reports all the action; including how Troyes were left smarting, after a stunning individual display from Bastia’s Floyd Ayite sunk the bottom club.
Two Congo internationals made the headlines in Reims’ 2-0 away win at Caen; goals from Thievy Bifouma and Prince Oniangué claimed the away side’s first back-to-back wins since the opening two games of the season. Striker Bifouma powered home a header from short-range, meeting a superb delivery from Nicolas De Preville to score his first for the club. Relegation-threatened Reims made sure of the win in the 63rd minute, Oniangué prodding home at the second attempt from an in-swinging free-kick. Reims now occupy 16th position, three points ahead of the drop zone.
Floyd Ayite was at the double for Bastia, hitting the target twice in their defeat of Troyes. The Togo international gave the hosts the advantage on the tenth minute, latching onto a raking, 30-yard ball from Gael Danic before hitting a cute right-footed finish into the top corner. Bastia’s hopes of securing their second win in three games were dampened shortly afterwards when goalkeeper, Jean-Louis Leca, was sent to the stands for an awful, mis-timed challenge on DR Congo international, Chris Mavinga, outside of the area. Brayan Perea was given his marching orders on the hour-mark, Troyes failing to make the most of their numerical advantage, before Tunisia international, Fabien Camus, gave away a penalty – and given a red card in the process. Ayite converted it, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, to grab his sixth goal of the campaign.
Lyon made further strides to qualify for Europe, beating Angers comfortably 3-0 away from home. Christophe Jallet, Rachid Ghezzal and Corentin Tolisso hit the target for Bruno Génésio’s side. Either side of Jallet and Corentin Tolisso’s efforts, Algerian winger Ghezzal picked up the ball on the 46th minute, before darting into the right side of the area and hitting a left-footed shot past Alexandre Letellier, assisted by Jallet. Angers had their work cut out early on when Thomas Mangani was shown red on the 16th minute, three minutes after Jallet’s opener. And it went from bad to worse thereafter for Angers, who sit in fifth position, a point ahead of sixth-placed Lyon.
Nice made the short trip east to take on Monaco at the Stade Louis II, in a tie between second and third, but lost 1-0 to the Principal side. The hosts faced an upheaval early in the second-half to secure the maximum points hall though, Morocco international, Nabil Dirar, received two bookings in quick succession; the player initially cautioned for a challenge on Maxime Le Marchand and then for remonstrating with the referee, who gave him his marching orders. This wasn’t to matter though as 21-year-old Tiemoué Bakayoko headed home the winner on the 81st minute, meeting João Moutinho’s in-swinging delivery.
In other news, Morocco international, Sofiane Boufal, was sent-off in Lille’s 1-1 draw with Rennes at home. The hosts were leading 1-0, after recent signing Eder had given his new team the lead, before Boufal was given his second yellow for a foul on Pedro Mendes. Ousmane Dembélé equalised late on for Rennes from the spot, after Adama Soumaoro brought down Paul-Georges Ntep. Mali international, Cheick Diabaté, was dismissed late on for Bordeaux in their thumping home defeat to St Etienne. At 4-1 in stoppage time, the striker was involved in a confrontation with Senegalese defender, Moustapha Bayal Sall.