Seko Fofana’s stunning strike set RC Lens on their way to a 2-1 win over Stade Rennais FC on Saturday that sent them provisionally to the top of the table ahead of the rest of the weekend’s games.
RC Lens 2-1 Stade Rennais FC
This game, played in a raucous atmosphere at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, did not come to life in the first half, but Lens were rewarded for taking the game to their visitors after the break as goals by Fofana and Loïs Openda left Rennes with too much to do to salvage a point, even if Gaëtan Laborde grabbed a late consolation.
Florian Sotoca came close within a minute of the second half starting and Facundo Medina headed wide from a Fofana cross when unmarked at point-blank range. Openda then forced an excellent save from Dogan Alemdar in the Rennes goal before the breakthrough arrived in the 66th minute via a piece of magic from the home captain. Fofana collected possession out by the left touchline and advanced towards the penalty box where he sent Désiré Doué packing with a couple of stepovers before curling a shot into the far corner.
Les Sang et Or scored again just four minutes later as Openda stole in front of Joe Rodon to fire a Sotoca pass beyond Alemdar and into the net. It was his second goal since joining Lens from Club Brugge in the close season – he also found the net in last weekend’s 4-1 win at AS Monaco.
There was a fightback from Rennes, who appeared much more lively in attack after Laborde replaced Jérémy Doku on the hour mark. Laborde forced a fine save from Brice Samba in the home goal in the 72nd minute and would have been left with a tap-in had Flavien Tait picked him out instead of going for goal himself in the 78th minute. Seconds after that Kamaldeen Sulemana smashed a shot off the angle of post and crossbar, and Rennes did not find the net until the first minute of injury time when Laborde got the break of the ball in the box and fired high past Samba.
It proved to be no more than a consolation as Lens held on for a deserved victory which moves them on to 10 points from a possible 12. Their superb start to the season leaves them top, although they may not be there for long, with Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille both having the chance to overhaul Franck Haise’s side on Sunday.
THE PLAYER: Seko Fofana
Lens have started the campaign strongly despite losing several key players from last season. Jonathan Clauss, Cheick Doucouré and Arnaud Kalimuendo have all departed, but Les Sang et Or are so far coping just fine. Things may be different if they were to lose their influential captain Fofana, though. He was linked with PSG at one point in the close season, yet it looks likely he will still be at Lens after the transfer window shuts on Thursday. His stunning opening goal here shows both why Lens so badly need him, and why other clubs are watching him so closely.
THE STAT: 10
Lens have 10 points from four games, their best tally at this stage of a season since 2001-02, when they finished second.
AJ Auxerre 1-0 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Newly-promoted Auxerre claimed a second straight win as they beat Strasbourg at the Stade de l’Abbé-Deschamps in Saturday’s early game. The visitors were left to rue a couple of big missed chances from the usually reliable Kévin Gameiro as Auxerre grabbed the game’s only goal just before the half-hour mark.
Gaëtan Perrin controlled a Lassine Sinayoko pass before firing low across Matz Sels and into the far corner, as Auxerre followed their 2-1 win at Montpellier Hérault SC last weekend and moved onto seven points from four games. Strasbourg are still without a win and have just two points to their name.