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Angers break Metz hearts

Publish on 06/05/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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FC Metz's two-year stay in Ligue 1 Conforama is at an end after the basement-dwellers lost 2-1 to Angers SCO, with Mateo Pavlovic (90+2') and Flavien Tait (90+4') scoring injury-time goals for the visitors.

 FC Metz 1-2 Angers SCO 

THE MATCH

This was a must-win game for Metz, but they got off to a poor start and looked to have fallen a goal behind when Karl Toko Ekambi forced home following Tait's corner, but the Cameroon striker was pulled back for offside (15'). Instead, it was Metz who drew first blood, Florent Mollet picking up on Emmanuel Rivière's pass after a swift counter-attack before steering home his seventh goal of the season (20'). Metz goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima will go to the FIFA World Cup in Russia as Japan's No.1, and he showed why just inside the half-hour, flying across his goal to deny Abdoulaye Bamba, who had let rip with a stinging attempt (26'). In an end-to-end first half, Rivière forced a save from Kawashima's opposite number Ludovic Butelle (27') before Toko Ekambi's penalty claim was waved away after a challenge from international teammate Georges Mandjeck at the other end (31') and the sides went into the break with Metz leading 1-0.

Metz heartbreak

Kawashima was forced into action again early in the second half, reacting well to keep Toko Ekambi's header at bay (51'). At the other end, Nolan Roux should really have put Metz 2-0 up but he was unable to add to his 15 goals for the campaign with Mathieu Dossevi's cross proving too difficult to control (54'). Mollet then fired a free-kick under the Angers wall but Butelle was able to hoover up the danger (59'). Vincent Manceau missed a golden opportunity to draw Angers level (69') but there was still time for the visitors to break Metz's hearts. Pavlovic reacted quickest to Lassana Coulibaly's header from Tait's corner which came crashing back off the crossbar (90+2') before Tait sealed Les Grenats' fate, picking up on Thomas Touré's pass and lashing a shot beyond Kawashima, who was cruelly beaten (90+4').

THE PLAYER: Eiji Kawashima's

Kawashima was - like the rest of his teammates - desperately unlucky to find himself on the losing side on Sunday. The Japanese remains as reliable as ever at 35, and barely put a foot - or a hand - wrong with his 32 touches and four saves made. Whether Domino's Ligue 2 football will appeal to him after the World Cup in Russia remains to be seen.

THE STAT: 13

If only away results counted, Metz would be safely tucked away in 15th on 13 points. Results have eluded them late on, especially at home, this season, but if they hold onto the majority of their squad they should be back for another bite at the Ligue 1 Conforama cherry a season from now.