Rennes are through to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League after a 3-1 success at Real Betis saw them advance 6-4 on aggregate against the Spanish club.
Thursday, 21 February 2019
UEFA Europa League, round of 32 second leg
Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville
Real Betis Balompié 1 - 3 Stade Rennais FC (Rennes through 6-4 on aggregate)
The greatest result in Rennes' European history was achieved thanks to coach Julien Stephan's ambitious game plan and a terrific display from the Brittany club's players. After a 3-3 draw at Roazhon Park in the first leg, Rennes knew they had to score on the night to go through and the positive approach paid off.
Just as in the first leg, Rennes managed to go 2-0 up. Even without suspended captain Benjamin André, the visitors took the game to Betis and Andrés Guardado (21') almost put through his own net. From the ensuing corner Clément Grenier picked out Ramy Bensebaini (22') and the defender headed Rennes in front on the night and in the tie.
Tomas Koubek (26') kept out Jesé, the forward on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and then Adrien Hunou (29') followed up scoring his maiden European goal in the first leg with another big goal as he turned in Ismaïla Sarr's cross-shot. Giovani Lo Celso, also on loan from PSG, had launched the Betis fightback in the first leg and the Argentinian international scored for the second time in the tie (41') with a left-footed shot.
With Koubek having a sound game in the Rennes goal Betis were frustrated in the second half as Sergio Canales (54'), Jesé (66') and Joaquin (77') all came unstuck against the Czech international.
Rennes, who enjoyed far more possession than they did at home, almost made the tie safe (86') when Hatem Ben Arfa was denied by Joel Robles. Stephan's men knew they were through (90+4) when Hamari Traoré won the ball back, Ben Arfa played it through for Mbaye Niang and the forward took Marc Bartra out of the game before beating Robles. Niang, like Traoré, will miss the first leg of the round of 16 through suspension.
THE PLAYER: Clémént Grenier
Without André alongside him there was greater onus on the French international midfielder to draw on the European experience he acquired with Olympique Lyonnais. The 28-year-old had a fine game, playing with calm, accurate in his passing and putting himself about to good effect. Grenier it was who set up the opening goal for Bensebaini with a corner.
THE STAT: 1
This was the first time a French club had ever won at Real Betis in six attempts.