Lens close on Champions League with Lorient win

FC Lorient 1-3 RC Lens




Lens could hardly have got off to a worse start, with Romain Faivre beating Brice Samba to Facundo Medina’s throw-in intended for his goalkeeper and steering home from a tight angle (6′). The UEFA Champions League-chasing visitors soon piled on the pressure, and Loïs Openda (19′) and Fofana (20′) both fired efforts off target before Sotoca found the equaliser, his shot deflecting off Bamo Meïté and over Yvon Mvogo for 1-1 (20′). Thomasson then gave Lens the lead, the January arrival from RC Strasbourg Alsace gifted possession in the box by Gédéon Kalulu before converting from close range (25′). Deiver Machado then hit a free-kick straight into Mvogo’s hands (34′) and Lorient could have levelled the game before the half was out when Faivre found Ibrahima Koné in the box, but Jonathan Gradit recovered the danger (37′) and it was 2-1 at the break.


Lens find focus


Lorient had another good chance to restore parity inside the hour when Koné outran Medina to get clean through on goal, but his left-footed shot failed to test Samba (57′). Les Merlus dominated possession for long periods after the restart but failed to create many clear-cut chances. Indeed, they nearly found themselves fall further behind when Angleo Fulgini found Sotoca with a free-kick, but Mvogo stooped to save (77′). They did carve out a fine chance late on when Koné found himself unmarked from a corner, but his textbook downward header was saved on the line by Samba (84′). Lens then added gloss to the scoreline with Fofana poking home (87′) and it ended 3-1 at the Stade du Moustoir.



THE PLAYER: Brice Samba


Lens might have been left with more to do across the final two games of the season if not for Samba, who had to stay focused throughout here. The former Nottingham Forest man made five saves from big chances, and his first France cap is surely just around the corner.




It is 21 years since Lens last qualified for the Champions League, something they secured in the 2001/02 campaign when they finished as runners-up to the once almighty Olympique Lyonnais. They beat AC Milan and Deportivo La Coruna the following season, and must already be dreaming of more European glamour ties next term. Beat Clermont Foot 63 next Saturday and it’s job done.


Stade Brestois 29 2-1 Clermont Foot 63


Elsewhere, Stade Brestois 29 secured Ligue 1 Uber Eats survival with a 2-1 win over Clermont Foot 63.


Franck Honorat and Steve Mounié were on target for les Pirates – with both goals assisted by Pierre Lees Melou – as Brest bounced back from Neto Borges’ first-half opener for the visitors.


OGC Nice 0-0 Toulouse FC


OGC Nice’s faint hopes of European football next season were dashed once and for all after their goalless draw with Toulouse FC at the Allianz Riviera.


Stade de Reims 2-2 Angers SCO


It was honours even as Stade de Reims faced basement club Angers SCO as well, although four goals were scored at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.


Junya Ito and Folarin Balogun goals were pegged back by Halid Sabanovic and Himad Abdelli strikes respectively – Balogun’s making him the first American ever to score 20 in a single European top five campaign.


ESTAC Troyes 1-1 RC Strasbourg Alsace


RC Strasbourg are as good as safe after drawing with ESTAC Troyes, meanwhile.


Habib Diallo’s first-half opener for le Racing was cancelled out by Roby Lopes, and the visitors held on despite playing the last 20 minutes short-handed after Alexander Djiku’s sending off.

Source link