Ligue 1: Lens maintains the pace by winning against Reims

Two shots on target, two goals

Ligue 1: Lens maintains the pace by winning against Reims

Two shots on target, two goals. Lensois coach Franck Haise is right to praise his team’s “ability to be pragmatic”. Thanks to this realism, RC Lens managed to dominate Reims (2-0), Saturday December 16 during the 16th day of Ligue 1. A success which allows the Sang et Or to keep pace at the top of the ranking by hanging fifth place - before Sunday's matches - with 26 points, three more than the Rémois, who remain eighth.

“The players deserve a lot of credit for hanging on in difficult times, for remaining solid,” appreciated Franck Haise after this happy victory. A quarter of an hour from the end of the match, the Artois players still owed their only real opportunity, converted into a goal, to a blunder by the Reims defense. Central defender Joseph Okumu headed the ball to the edge of his own area while his goalkeeper Yehvann Diouf came out to catch it. Result: Wesley Saïd only had to push him to the back of the abandoned cages (1-0, 43rd). Like an early Christmas present.

This lackluster score for the Artesian club can be explained firstly by the number of starters absent at kick-off: Florian Sotoca and Facundo Medina were suspended while Jonathan Gradit, Deiver Machado and Nampalys Mendy are in the infirmary. Even scorer Elye Wahi was absent from the scoresheet due to illness.

Amputated by numerous executives and perhaps short of energy four days after their victory against Sevilla FC (2-1) synonymous with qualification for the play-offs for the round of 16 of the Europa League, the club from the mining basin however, went on to an eleventh match in a row without defeat in the league.

Fan protest movement

But the match only really started after a quarter of an hour of play, on the pitch and in the stands. At the initiative of the Red Tigers, a collective of Lensois supporters, the ultras decided not to host the first fifteen minutes to protest against the stadium ban pronounced by the Professional Football League against the North Devils group for its use of pyrotechnic devices during a trip to Clermont.

The Lensois players seemed to follow the movement, as dull as the bays of the Marek stand. It was therefore Reims who controlled the game and created the first chances, first through Keito Nakamura, whose shot was deflected for a corner by goalkeeper Brice Samba (15th). The Lens captain and neo-international was very happy to see Emmanuel Agbadou's attempted header hit his right post in the process.

Will Still's players did not loosen their grip until opening the scoring through Mohamed Daramy at the conclusion of a nice counter-attack, before the goal was refused for a short offside position (18th) . Another attack in transition almost hit the mark when Brice Samba got confused, still in front of Mohamed Daramy (41st). Without consequence.

The second period started in the same way, Stade de Reims, then leading by the score, creating new opportunities through Yunis Abdelhamid with a header (52nd) or even Junya Ito (58th).

Negative spiral for Reims

But the Lensois finally took cover thanks to a victorious header from substitute Oscar Cortes on a cross from Ruben Aguilar, during their only constructed action of the game (2-0, 75th). Enough to collect three precious points and continue their rise in the standings, while they occupied last place on the evening of the fifth day with only one point on the clock.

“We were not the best last year, we still are not this year,” admitted the Lensois coach. We lack a certain number of things, accuracy, mastery, but things allow us to compensate for these shortcomings: organization, intelligence in adaptations, heart, character, pragmatism. »

Conversely, Reims is sinking into a negative spiral by conceding its fourth defeat in its last five meetings, after an exciting start to the season. “If we want to turn a corner, we have to stop making these mistakes” railed coach Will Still, in reference to the blunder which led to the opening of the Lensoise score. “I know that Reims shows a beautiful image, but at some point, it will get boring for me to show a beautiful image,” he whispered. We have to reward ourselves, and get this match in our pocket faster. Maybe this is part of our journey, our learning. »