Nantes' winless run against Rennes was extended to nine Ligue 1 Conforama matches as Claudio Ranieri's side paid the price for Emiliano Sala being sent off in a 1-1 draw.
FC Nantes 1-1 Stade Rennais FC
With both clubs knowing that sixth place in the table is now likely to be enough for European football, this was a crunch meeting as Nantes used the occasion to celebrate their 75th birthday. The three points would have been the perfect present to themselves but Ranieri's misfiring side have now managed but a single win in their last 11 outings.
Rennes are without a win in four and know their fifth spot in the table will come under fire over the remainder of the weekend. Sabri Lamouchi's side had chances to bag a maximum haul after James Léa-Siliki (81') had cancelled out Adrien Thomasson's opener (42').
Sala (32') had miscued when unmarked and the night was to get worse for Les Canaris' top scorer, though not before midfielder Thomasson had opened the scoring. Tomas Koubek spilled Jules Iloki's cross from the right and Thomasson was on hand to net his second goal in three games before being booked for his celebrations.
Two minutes into the second half Sala was given his marching orders for a second yellow card and Léa-Siliki (55') was close to getting Rennes back on terms when his deflected shot tested Ciprian Tatarusanu. Iloki wasted a great chance (64') to make it 2-0 and Andrei Girotto (74') could also have extended the home advantage.
Léa-Siliki enjoyed some good fortune to make it 1-1. A corner was cleared his way and the midfielder's shot deflected off Nicolas Pallois and lodged in the back of the home net. After equalising, Rennes went for it and Wahbi Khazri (87') hit the post before Tatarusanu (89') made a great save from a Joris Gnagnon header. In the end Nantes were left grateful to remain two points back from Rennes in the table.
THE PLAYER: Emiliano Sala
Sala had scored two of Nantes' previous three goals against Rennes and came into the game looking for a goal that would take him off 12 for the season and to a new outright PB for a league campaign. Instead the Argentinian forward will remember the night for all the wrong reasons and his automatic suspension will further damage Nantes' European quest.
THE STAT: 8
Nantes have won none of their last eight Ligue 1 Conforama home games against Rennes, having won all seven of their previous encounters at La Beaujoire.