Matz Sels, Kenny Lala and Co. were the better team on Saturday, but RC Strasbourg Alsace ultimately had to settle for a 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened SM Caen.
SM Caen 0-0 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Caen and Strasbourg lined up with matching 5-3-2 formations, but the sheer energy of the visitors' wing-backs Dimitri Liénard and, in particular, Lala kept Caen on the back foot. Lala gave an early warning of the danger he posed down the right, sending a wicked delivery in for Sanjin Prcic, who fired narrowly wide (10'). Strasbourg's lack of bodies in the middle did provide a window of opportunity for Caen midway through the half when Saîf-Eddine Khaoui raced clear, but Sels was well placed to push the Tunisian midfielder's shot around the post (18'). Ludovic Ajorque then found Adrien Thomasson on the left at the other end, but his first-time effort was tipped onto the post by Sels' opposite number, Brice Samba (24'). Lala sent another cross into the home box towards the end of the half, but Paul Baysse beat intended target Ibrahima Sissoko to the ball (34') and the sides went in for half-time with the scores at 0-0.
Caen hold firm
Strasbourg started the second half as they had ended the first - as the stronger team - and they nearly took the lead barely two minutes after the restart. Le Racing won back possession in their own half and seconds later, via Liénard, Ajorque and the width of the Stade Michel d'Ornano pitch, Benjamin Corgnet was on hand to head towards goal, but Samba once again proved equal to the threat (47'). Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey brought South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba on for Corgnet for the final half-hour in an attempt to find greater penetration (66'), but it was Caen who were the next to threaten, with a thumping Prince Oniangué shot deflected clear, somewhat unwittingly, by Ajorque (70'). Mothiba and Youssouf Fofana nearly had the final say late on, but Samba pulled off a smart double save (84') and it ended honours even.
THE PLAYER: Kenny Lala
That Lala, now 27, had just three top-flight seasons under his belt before this campaign kicked off seems barely fathomable. So consistently Strasbourg's best player in defence and attack, it is little wonder that the Paris-born man is reported to be attracting interest from around France and beyond. He may not have added to his season eight assists today, but that certainly wasn't for the want of trying.
THE STAT: 9|
Caen may remain in the relegation zone, but this was the ninth consecutive game that they have avoided defeat against Strasbourg, who have otherwise been one of this season's biggest surprise packages. Le Racing last beat Caen back in October 2006, when legendary French striker Jean-Pierre Papin was trying to oversee their promotion back to Ligue 1 Conforama.