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Europe still mathematically possible for Montpellier

Publish on 06/05/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Montpellier Hérault SC kept their slim European hopes alive with a 2-0 win over FC Nantes in Brittany. Keagan Dolly (51') and Isaac Mbenza (63') got the goals at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

 FC Nantes 2-0 Montpellier Hérault SC 

THE MATCH

Montpellier could have taken the lead early on but Ellyes Skhiri headed Keagan Dolly's free-kick off target with the home goal at his mercy (11'). Nantes lost Préjuce Nakoulma to injury soon after, the Burkina Faso forward replaced by Kalifa Coulibaly (15'), but with Emiliano Sala back from suspension to lead the line the change in personnel barely affected Claudio Ranieiri's men, and the Argentine came close soon after, but Benjamin Lecomte raced off his line to deny the striker (23'). Sala had a second chance after Dubois span the ball into him, but Lecomte managed to save in instalments with Adrien Thomasson lurking for the rebound (27'). Unable to beat Lecomte from open play, Les Canaris had a gilt-edged chance from the spot with half-time approaching, but Sala blasted his penalty over the bar (42'). Montpellier nearly punished that profligacy with the final kick of the half, but Casmimir Ninga's shot flew narrowly wide of Ciprian Tatarusanu's goal (45+1').

Montpellier make sure

The second half was little more than five minutes old when Michel Der Zakarian's current side pulled ahead of his former employers, though. Dolly strode forward from midfield before lifting an unstoppable effort over Tatarusanu (51'). If the opening goal was good then the strike to put La Paillade two clear was rather special. Mbenza, only on seconds before for Ninga, let fly from outside of the box with his first touch of the ball, and it lodged into the top corner for 2-0 (63'). Lucas Lima tried to reduce the arrears with a curling free-kick soon after, but Lecomte proved equal to the Brazilian's attempt (77'). Montpellier were deserved winners, however: Junior Sambia shaved the Nantes post with a rasping effort late in the game (80') and the visitors happily settled for a 2-0 win.

THE PLAYER: Keagan Dolly

Dolly has not been assured of his place under Der Zakarian this season, with this just the midfielder's seven start in the league, but he figures to stay after a fine shift in which he completed 82 percent of his passes and fired in a game-high three shots, the first of which left Tatarusanu with no chance.

THE STAT: 11

Both teams had 11 attempts on goal at the Stade de la Beaujoire, but Nantes only manages to get two of theirs on target compared to Montpellier's seven.