Stade de Reims leapfrogged Stade Rennais FC and into a provisional seventh place with a 2-0 win at their Stade Auguste Delaune, with Boulaye Dia and Rémi Oudin on target for the hosts.
Stade de Reims 2-0 Stade Rennais FC
Reims raced into the lead with the first real attack of the game. Tristan Dingomé helped on Oudin's cross and Dia was on hand with a finish that belied the fact it was just his second goal of the season (3'). Reims continued to pressure the visitors and came close to making it 2-0 soon after when Dia and Dingomé exchanged roles following a swift counter, but this time Tomas Koubek made the save (11'). Rennes winger Romain Del Castillo then had a number of dangerous-looking raids down the left flank which ultimately came to nothing. The home fans also heaved a collective sigh of relief when Hatem Ben Arfa's free-kick drifted narrowly wide of Edouard Mendy's near post towards the end of the half (38'). Oudin then headed Mathieu Cafaro's cross just over Koubek's bar (41') and Florent Batta's half-time whistle blew with the visitors rather more pleased to hear it than their hosts.
Zeneli lifts game
Cafaro let fly from range early in the second half, his effort drifting wide (53'), but Reims kept their pressure up and they doubled their advantage when Arber Zeneli slalomed forward, avoiding Jérémy Gelin's tackle, before laying on a chance for Oudin which the attacker readily converted for 2-0 (68'). Zeneli - second-half replacement for Cafaro (55') - added significant spark to the Reims attack, and teed up another gilt-edged chance late on when he danced past his marker and played in Moussa Doumbia, but the Mali midfielder's shot was off-target (81') and it ended 2-0 in the north of France. Sixth-placed Montpellier Hérault SC are up next, and will provide a real litmus test for Reims' European ambitions.
THE PLAYER: Boulaye Dia
With Pablo Chavarria injured and Suk Hyun-jun rested, Dia was handed a rare start at the point of the Reims attack by David Guion. The 22-year-old scored 15 goals in 21 games for Jura Sud Foot in the third tier last season, and looks unfazed by the step up in competition if tonight's performance is anything to go by
THE STAT: 9
Resurgent Reims are now undefeated in their last nine Ligue 1 Conforama matches. Guion's men haven't lost since December, when they were edged 1-0 by Toulouse FC. In the bottom half of the table then, Reims now find themselves on the cusp of the European places. Could a first continental tilt since 1963 be on the cards?