Erik Pieters got the winning goal as Amiens SC took another big step towards safety by beating Nîmes Olympique 2-1 at the Stade de la Licorne on Saturday.
Amiens SC 2 - 1 Nîmes Olympique
What an entertaining contest this was. Amiens were unlucky not to take a lead back into the dressing rooms at half-time, with Sehrou Guirassy hitting the bar in the 27th minute, and then seeing a shot on the turn saved by Paul Bernardoni just after the half-hour mark. Moussa Konaté snatched at a glorious chance and Bernardoni did well to turn a Saman Ghoddos attempt around the post (44').
However, the home side got their noses in front shortly after the restart. The goal came from a Pieters long throw which visiting captain Anthony Briançon only managed to help on towards Guirassy. He chested the ball down with his back to goal six yards out before swivelling and firing in.
Nevertheless, Nîmes were back on level terms only four minutes later. Téji Savanier crossed from the right-hand side and Renaud Ripart headed the ball on towards the far post where Moroccan striker Rachid Alioui nodded in his fifth goal of the season - he had scored twice when the Crocodiles won 3-0 in the reverse fixture in December.
Amiens were back in front not long after the hour mark, though, and it was thanks to Pieters. The Dutch international defender, who joined Christophe Pélissier's side on loan from English second-tier club Stoke City just before the transfer deadline in January, arrived inside the six-yard box to head home at the far post from a Konaté cross for his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal (64').
Guirassy sent off
The hosts then held on through stoppage time after Guirassy was shown a straight red card in the 89th minute for an ugly challenge on Denis Bouanga just past the halfway line.
This was a third straight home win for Amiens, who have taken seven points from the last nine available in total and increase the gap down to the relegation places. Nîmes - who were playing their first game in a fortnight - remain safe in mid-table.
THE PLAYER: Sehrou Guirassy
The France youth international forward returned to his home country on loan from 1. FC Köln in January and is making a big impact. He had already hit the woodwork here before scoring his second goal for his new side. However, he was then sent off late on and risks a lengthy suspension as a result.
THE STAT: 9
Amiens have taken nine points out of a possible nine from their last three at home in the league, with this result following 1-0 wins against SM Caen and OGC Nice last month.