Seko Fofana scored the decisive third for Lens as a first-half blitz of goals earned them a 3-2 win over Bordeaux on Sunday while Kevin Gameiro's goal at Angers strengthened Strasbourg's hold on fourth place in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table. Nantes, Brest and Saint-Etienne also won.
With Vladimir Petkovic removed as coach and David Guion only stepping in on Monday, former Bordeaux midfielder Jaroslav Plasil was in the visitors' dug-out. Les Girondins had conceded 58 goals — more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues — before kick-off and had yet to register a clean sheet. Within 10 minutes, Plasil saw that latter streak extended, and with just 27 minutes gone, the game was all but up.
The presence of the experienced Marcelo in the visitors' backline did nothing to stem the worrying tide as Lens quickly seized the initiative. Rémi Oudin lost possession and Jonathan Clauss countered down the right. His cross was not dealt with by the Bordeaux defence, Gaël Kakuta picked up the ball and found Arnaud Kalimuendo, who fired beyond Gaëtan Poussin (10').
Poussin, in goal again for the injured Benoît Costil, was soon beaten once more. Gideon Mensah brough down Christopher Wooh and Kakuta fired home from the spot to double the hosts' lead (22'). Five minutes later, Fofana's late run into the area allowed him to connect with Massadio Haïdara's pass before sending a rising shot beyond Poussin (27').
If Guion was watching, he will have been left under no illusions about the scale of the task at hand. The former Reims coach can count on a talented front line, however. Jean Onana's through ball allowed Alberth Elis to sidefoot high beyond Wulker Farinez (33') and give Bordeaux, who had lost their previous two away games by six and five goals, some semblance of hope.
That optimism was boosted still further early in the second half. New recruit Anel Ahmedhodzic picked out Hwang Ui-Jo, and the South Korea international took his league tally into double figures for the 2021/22 season with a crisp low shot (53').
Ignatius Ganago could have made Lens' life easier had he beaten Poussin when through one-on-one (67') and Fofana hit a post late on (90+1') before Bordeaux nearly snatched a point deep in added time. Farinez made a mess of a ball into the box, and Przemyslaw Frankowski cleared Ricardo Mangas' goalbound effort (90+4') to earn Franck Haise's side only their third win in their last 11 league games.
THE PLAYER: Seko Fofana
The Lens captain was again the central figure of his side's win. A beautifully taken — and ultimately game-winning — goal capped another superb individual display.
THE STAT: 3
Lens have won three of their last four league games with Bordeaux, but have lost 41 times in 104 top-flight meetings with Les Girondins, more than against any other side bar Monaco (45).
Strasbourg moved onto 41 points — just one behind third-placed Nice — to record their highest total at this stage of a season since winning the league in 1978/79 thanks to Gameiro's first-half strike at the Stade Raymond Kopa.
Nantes moved to ninth — just two points off fifth — thanks to Moses Simon's free-kick (17') while Saint-Etienne moved out of the bottom two, at least until Metz's game with Marseille later on Sunday, thanks to another late surge that gave them a third successive win.
After striking three times in the closing eight minutes to beat Montpellier last time out, Pascal Dupraz's men found the net twice in the final 19 minutes through Mahdi Camara (71') and Timothée Kolodziejczak (82') to come from behind to beat Clermont.
That victory moved Les Verts level on 21 points with Troyes, who were thumped 5-1 at Brest. The hosts claimed a fifth win in a seven-game run with Martin Satriano scoring twice to claim his first Ligue 1 Uber Eats goals on his debut while Franck Honorat was involved in three of his team's strikes, scoring twice himself.