Montpellier deepen Bordeaux's crisis
By D. Crossan
Late goals from Jonathan Ikoné and substitute Isaac Mbenza saw Montpellier win 2-0 at a Bordeaux side who have lost their last five games in all competitions.
Girondins de Bordeaux 0-2 Montpellier Hérault SC
Bordeaux have managed only five points from their last 12 matches and head into 2018 a single point above the bottom three. Montpellier, meanwhile, came up with a reaction to Week 18's shock home loss to 20th-placed Metz and will be in fine spirits at Christmas as they sit seventh in the standings.
Bordeaux reverted to a 4-3-3 having experimented with five at the back in the 1-0 loss at Nice. Jocelyn Gourvennec recalled Valentin Vada and Malcom in a search for greater creativity, yet Bordeaux were impotent as they failed to find the back of the net for the fourth consecutive game in all competitions. Their one official effort on target, from teenaged sub Ervin Taha in the 66th minute, was more like a pass back.
Junior Sambia tested Jérôme Prior with a dipping free-kick in the fifth minute and on the half-hour Prior, again preferred to Benoît Costil in goal, rushed off his line to smother a Ruben Aguilar attempt.
Montpellier had been the more threatening side and in the 67th minute Giovanni Sio hit the crossbar with an audacious attempt from fully 40 metres. Four minutes later Montpellier were in front as Ikoné had too much space and smashed a shot goalwards that flew straight through Prior.
As Bordeaux attempted to find an equaliser they left themselves exposed at the back and Sambia should have sealed the points in the 90th minute. That was his last act and his replacement Mbenza showed him how it's done by stepping inside Jérémy Toulalan and curling home from 20 metres out for his fourth league goal of the season.
THE PLAYER: Jonathan Ikoné
Ikoné's campaign had been indifferent until playing well in the Coupe de la Ligue round of 16 win over Olympique Lyonnais. Montpellier felt the 19-year-old on loan from Paris Saint-Germain needed to get accustomed to what's involved with being a top-flight footballer and it appears the message is getting through. Ikoné's instinctive strike saw him net his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the season.
THE STAT: 7
Montpellier are now unbeaten in seven away Ligue 1 Conforama games, winning three of them and drawing four times. They have the stingiest away defence in the league having conceded a mere nine goals on the road.