Champions League: London ordeal for Racing Club de Lens, eliminated from the competition

Will a French club participate in the knockout stages of the Champions League? In any case, there won't be two

Champions League: London ordeal for Racing Club de Lens, eliminated from the competition

Will a French club participate in the knockout stages of the Champions League? In any case, there won't be two. If Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is still in control of its destiny before playing the sixth and final day of the group stage of the competition, despite its sluggish performance against Newcastle on Tuesday (1-1), the Racing Club de Lens (RC Lens) was routed (0-6), Wednesday November 29 at the Emirates Stadium, by Arsenal, the English club showing itself to be twirling and ruthless.

The Sang et Or, with their unusual excitement, were overwhelmed in all areas of the game. In the stands, their supporters were the only ones to dominate their English counterparts, continuing to sing and encourage their team until the end. “I'm not angry, I don't necessarily have any regrets,” reacted coach Franck Haise. “The opponent was much superior to us, and we, above all, were not strong where we should have been. be strong, that is to say defensively in particular. There was too much of a gap. »

As, at the same time, PSV Eindhoven won in Seville (3-2), the Lensois can only hope for third place in group B, which they currently occupy with five points and three points ahead on the Andalusians. They will receive the latter during the last meeting, scheduled for December 12, which must not be lost if they want to be transferred to the Europa League. Perhaps a blessing in disguise for RC de Lens, which will certainly be more comfortable in this second European competition.

“We expected a different appearance. We had this hope of competing, of making the match last as long as possible, declared midfielder Adrien Thomasson at the microphone of RMC Sport, They were superior to us; we learn. The disappointment is great because we know that we are eliminated [from the Champions League] but there is one match left and we are keen to be [present in February] in the Europa League. »

Attractive during the first three meetings of the group stage – with two draws against Seville (1-1) and PSV (1-1) and a prestigious success (2-1) against Arsenal – RC Lens won suffered the blow in the next two. Already beaten (0-1) in the Netherlands on November 8, Franck Haise's team could not resist, on Wednesday, the mastery of the Gunners, who were keen to avenge the insult of their defeat at the beginning of October , in Pas-de-Calais (1-2). New leaders of their championship, the Premier League, since last weekend, Mikel Arteta's Londoners are in impressive form.

The heaviest defeat of a French club in the Champions League

Well helped by the errors of the Lensois, the players from north London scored four goals in the first half hour of the match. “In seven minutes, the match was over. And in an area where we are usually pretty solid. That means we always have to learn,” analyzed Franck Haise.

By losing (0-6), RC Lens suffered, on Wednesday, the heaviest defeat of a French club in the Champions League, erasing the poor performance of its neighbor and rival Lille, crushed (1-6) by Bayern Munich in 2012, and PSG, victim of a Barcelona “comeback” in 2017 (1-6) during a round of 16 second leg. All European competitions combined, the "palm" in this area always belongs to the Racing club of Strasbourg with a rouste (2-10) received in 1961 in Budapest in the Fairgrounds Cup.

At the Emirates Stadium, the English did not take long to make the difference. On the opening score (13th, 1-0), Lensois Salis Abdul Samed misses his header in the middle of the penalty area, his teammate Kevin Danso loses a crucial aerial duel against Gabriel Jesus and goalkeeper Brice Samba is beaten by the German Kai Havertz, who pushed the ball into the goals.

Less than ten minutes later, the Lensois defenders, waiting, looked at each other and let Gabriel Jesus calmly recover the ball, feinting the shot to play Danso before deceiving Samba with a placed shot (21st, 2-0). In the process, Gunner Gabriel Martinelli escapes on the left, rolls his shot pushed back with both fists by the Lens goalkeeper, directly at Bukayo Saka who scores a third goal (23rd, 3-0).

The nightmare grows as the RC Lens players fail to keep the ball for more than a few seconds. Subjected to incessant opposing attacks, they cracked once again at the end of a number from Martinelli, who this time found the opposite corner of Samba's goal (27th, 4-0).

A Champions League campaign that will not have been in vain

The timid reaction of the Lensois is then more due to the temporarily sated appetite of the Gunners. A long shot from defender Facundo Medina hits David Raya's post (40th). The few attempts by center forward Elye Wahi lead to nothing. This burst was even punished by Arsenal, following a masterful counter-attack led by Saka, who shifted Takehiro Tomiyasu whose cross was taken over by captain Martin Odegaard (45th, 5-0).

Without much more interest, the second half does not even allow the French club to save the honor, RC Lens showing itself incapable of reacting and carrying the danger in front of Raya's cages. Conversely, Arsenal closed their demonstration with a penalty at the end of the match. It was the Italian Jorginho who completed the English success (86th, 6-0).

This Champions League campaign, the first in twenty years, will not, however, have been useless to the Lensois. After a poor start to the championship, they used it to revive themselves and raise their level of play. In Ligue 1, RC Lens, now sixth, remains in eight games without defeat: five wins and three draws. On Saturday, the club will have the opportunity to forget Wednesday's rout when it hosts the bottom team, Olympique Lyonnais.

During the match against Seville, in two weeks at the Bollaert-Delelis stadium, Lens will be keen to finish their third participation in the Champions League well. A victory or a draw would be enough for his happiness.