Troyes pull away from danger with late Amiens win
Stéphane Darbion struck late (78') as ESTAC Troyes put daylight between themselves and the relegation places with a 1-0 win over Amiens SC.
ESTAC Troyes 1-0 Amiens SC
Outside of the relegation places on goal-difference alone at kick-off, Troyes started well against Amiens, bossing possession and forcing a pair of good early saves from Régis Gurtner, who punched Karim Azamoum's effort clear before reacting quickly to deny Samuel Grandsir on the rebound (19'). The Stade de l'Aube erupted just past the half hour when Suk Hyun-jun headed home Saîf-Eddine Khaoui's corner, but the South Korean's effort was ruled out for a push on the Amiens captain, Thomas Monconduit (37'). Amiens mustered an attack with the half drawing to a close, but Serge Gakpé was ruled offside after what would have been a fine through-ball from former Chelsea man Gaël Kakuta (45+1'), and the sides went into the interval on an even keel.
Gurtner's goal was by far the busier in the second half, and Suk was inches away from his sixth Ligue 1 Conforama goal since his summer loan from FC Porto, but his effort from a Grandsir cut-back flew the wrong side of the post (51'). Benjamin Nivet then came close to scoring one of the goals of the season minutes after replacing Bryan Pelé from the bench, but his audacious lob also sailed agonisingly wide (75'). There was an air of inevitability, then, when Jean-Louis Garcia's men pulled clear, with another substitute, Darbion, benefitting from a of a goal-mouth scramble to poke home his third goal of the campaign (78'). Moussa Konaté nearly broke Troyes hearts at the end, but his half-volley was saved by Mamadou Samassa (90') and it ended 1-0 to the hosts.
THE PLAYER: Stéphane Darbion
Darbion changed the game after coming on for Grandsir (68'). The 33-year-old dug in, defended from the front, completed 80 per cent of his passes in the final third, and another goal to his name was just reward for his efforts. Darbion will expect to start against Olympique de Marseille on Wednesday after such a showing.
THE STAT: 36
Troyes only had 36 per cent of possession at the Stade de l'Aube, yet their counter-attacking worked to a tee. The hosts had 19 shots to the visitors' 11; and nine corner kicks where Amiens had none. But for Suk's misfortune in the first half, they would have won by more, too.