Thauvin stars as Bastia win thriller
By A. Scott
Florian Thauvin scored a stunning solo goal as SC Bastia won again on Saturday, beating Valenciennes FC 4-3 at the Stade du Hainaut.
Valenciennes FC 3 - 4 SC Bastia
Thauvin's 89th-minute strike proved to be the decisive goal of a thrilling game that swung from end to end in the far north of France. Twice Valenciennes led, through Rémi Gomis and then a Gaël Danic penalty, before being pegged back on each occasion by Toifilou Maoulida strikes. Thauvin put the Corsicans in front for the first time on the night from the penalty spot with six minutes remaining, before going on to get his second and his team's fourth at the end of a remarkable run. Grégory Pujol pulled another goal back for the hosts, but their miserable form in 2013 continues.
Daniel Sanchez's side have won just once, and taken just seven points, from 11 Ligue 1 games played since the winter break. Their fine start to the campaign is but a distant memory as they now languish in 12th place, above Bastia only on goal difference. Fresh from putting four goals past Lyon in their last outing, Bastia's latest win pulls them further clear of the relegation zone.
The evening had started well for the hosts. The game was only nine minutes old when Gomis escaped his marker to neatly side-foot in a right-wing corner from six yards out. However, on a difficult pitch, Bastia set about finding a way back into the game, and were duly rewarded in the 20th minute. The lively Maoulida had been the visitors' best player in the opening stages and it was he who equalised, stealing a yard on Benjamin Brou Angoua to meet a Fethi Harek ball in from the left and finish past Nicolas Penneteau.
The game then swung back in the home side's favour on the half-hour mark. A Mathieu Dossevi shot came off the arm of Maka Mary inside the area, and referee Benoît Bastien pointed to the penalty spot. Danic stepped up to score his fourth league goal of the campaign, sending Bastia 'keeper Mickaël Landreau the wrong way from 12 yards.
Maoulida to the double
Valenciennes led at the interval, although Bastia came close to equalising when a Claudio Beauvue free-kick from 30 yards passed just wide of Penneteau's right-hand post. And the visitors did draw level in the 49th minute. Maoulida is familiar with the far north of France from his days spent on the books at Lens and it was he who scored again, getting in front of Brou Angoua at the near post to head home a terrific cross from the left from Julian Palmieri.
Thauvin then entered the fray with 20 minutes remaining. Bastia coach Frédéric Hantz had left his young star on the bench at kick-off after he played twice for the France under-20 side over the past week. Scorer of a brace in the 4-1 win against Lyon, Thauvin then netted three times in two games for his country, and so the in-form winger was the obvious choice to step forward when Bastia won a penalty with six minutes left after a Beauvue cross from the right was handled inside the box by Gaëtan Bong.
Thauvin beat sent Penneteau the wrong way from 12 yards, but the referee ordered a retake after spotting an encroachment into the area. Thauvin's second attempt went the other way, and hit the underside of the bar before landing just the right side of the line.
The Bastia number 17, who will join Lille in the summer, was not finished there though. He scored a brilliant goal to make it 4-2 with a minute left. The goal came from a Valenciennes corner, with the visiting defence clearing their lines as far as Thauvin. He collected possession inside his own half, drove forward down the right wing and cut into the box before finishing past Penneteau, the former Bastia 'keeper.
It was Thauvin's seventh goal of the season, although it was not the final goal of the evening. That honour fell to Pujol, who fired in his first of 2013 at the death after the Bastia defence failed to clear their lines.