balogun sdr reims Lorient
Match Reports

Flo Balogun overtakes Mbappé in Lorient romp!

Flo Balogun overtakes Mbappé in Lorient romp!

Match Reports
Publish on 02/02 at 01:10 - S. WILLIS


Reims' Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun went one better than Kylian Mbappé atop the scorers chart with a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Lorient. Meanwhile, freshly transferred from Angers, OM's Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi made a debut splash in the 2-0 win away to Nantes in Round 21.

Stade de Reims 4 - 2 FC Lorient

Will Still's Stade de Reims have been enjoying a fairytale unbeaten run since the Belgian-raised Englishman and Football Manager devotee took the reins in October. Their ten-match streak looked in danger as in-form Lorient came calling at the Stade Auguste-Delaune on Wednesday, but a star turn from Folarin Balogun more than turned the tide.

The visitors made an ideal start with plenty of pressure early, but there was a hint of good fortune as playmaker Enzo Le Fée's seemingly innocuous shot bobbled in front of Yehvann Diouf, forcing the error that led to the match's opener (10'). Diouf was beaten 26 minutes later, when Ibrahima Koné broke out of midfield and slapped a powerful shot in from the edge of the box (36').

Cometh the hour...

Cue Folarin Balogun. After Lorient defender Bonke Innocent was adjudged to have fouled a Reims player in the area, Englishman Balogun stepped up and made absolutely no mistake, leaving the diving Vito Mannone flailing and getting his side back into the match as the half-time break loomed (44').

A superb strike from Kamory Doumbia levelled matters early in the second half (51') as Still's men took control of the match, never to let it go. Out-shooting their visitors 31 to 12 (9 to 5 on target), Reims also dominated possession and it wasn't long before they converted the upper hand onto the scoreboard.

Outstanding Japan winger Junya Ito conjured a trademark cross - which was cut out at the last minute - but Balogun pounced with a first-time shot that enjoyed a brief appointment with the post before crashing into the back of the net to give Reims the lead for the first time in the match (61').


Just three minutes later, Balogun completed the come-from-behind win - and his first-ever senior hat-trick! - with another sharp finish, this time after a magnificent long-range effort from Emmanuel Agbadou had renounced off the cross-bar (64').

By this point, Reims were running away with it and Lorient - who were making their first outing following star striker Terem Moffi's move to OGC Nice - couldn't find the cutting edge to hit back, despite Koné's being denied by the post from a devilish shot on the turn (78').

Eleventh-placed Reims thus clocked the fifth win of their incredible 13-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1 Uber Eats (11 of which have been under Still), while Lorient slipped to seventh.

THE PLAYER: Folarin Balogun
The 21-year-old striker is going from strength to strength. After scoring a late equaliser away to PSG in Round 20, Balogun showed plenty of confidence as he hit his penalty up the middle (44') and keen positioning and finishing skills when he followed up with a pair of first-time finishes in the space of three minutes (61', 64').
Balogun, who is eligible to represent England, Nigeria and the USA, should have no shortage of interest when it comes time to declare his preference for senior international football!

Balogun now has 14 goals in Ligue 1 Uber Eats this season - that's one more than France's World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé - and the Arsenal loanee is now in sole control of the league's scorers chart!


FC Nantes 0 - 2 Olympique de Marseille

Newly arrived OM midfielder Azzedine Ounahi had a debut to remember as Les Olympiens made the long - and ultimately victorious - trip to Nantes. Igor Tudor's men dominated their hosts, but it wasn't until just before the hour-mark that their pressure paid off.

An own-goal from from Nantes defender João Victor - forced by a superb low cross from the marauding Nuno Tavares - got them off the mark (58') before Ounahi's deft dribbling and cool, composed finish for his first goal of the season (90'+3) sealed a seventh win in an unbeaten run of nine Ligue 1 Uber Eats matches and took OM into second.

Toulouse FC 4 - 1 ESTAC Troyes

Fresh from a brace in the Round 20 win in Strasbourg, Dutchman Thijs Dallinga was at it again on Wednesday, striking (16') to pave the way for a fourth win in an unbeaten run of five for Philippe Montanier's side.

Although his strike was a leveller, Mama Baldé having opened the scoring from the spot for Troyes (12'), Le Téfécé ran with it, goals from Farès Chaïbi (36'), Branco van den Boomen (55', pen.) and Japan striker Ado Onaiwu (88') sealing the big win that leaves Toulouse 11 points clear of the drop zone and ESTAC Troyes just one point above it.

Angers SCO 1 - 2 AC Ajaccio

Another tough night for bottom club Angers SCO, who fell to an 18th defeat of the season as visiting Ajaccio came from behind for the 2-1 shot in the arm for the survival hopes. Young Senegalese striker Abdallah Sima lit home hopes of a result when he opened the scoring (13'), and they lasted until the hour-mark, but newly signed forward Moussa Soumano levelled (65') and, after Angers left-back Souleyman Doumbia was given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle (78'), Mounaïm El-Idrissy dashed Angers' hopes of a point in the dying seconds (90'+4).

LOSC 0 - 0 Clermont Foot 63

After succumbing to Nice by the narrowest of margins in Round 20, Paulo Fonseca's LOSC were hoping to get back on track against visiting Clermont and, insofar as they avoided defeat, it was mission accomplished at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. However, Fonseca would have been hoping for better than just the five (of 23) shots on target the his side conjured against their tough-defending visitors, even though the point was enough for Les Dogues to climb to sixth place.


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