Toulouse FC will play a 15th consecutive year of Ligue 1 Conforama football after easing past AC Ajaccio in the relegation play-off. A 1-0 win at the Stadium Municipal gave Le Téfécé a 4-0 aggregate win over the Corsicans.
Toulouse FC 1-0 AC Ajaccio (Toulouse win 4-0 on aggregate)
Toulouse may have won the first leg of this relegation play-off 3-0 on Wednesday, but coach Mickaël Debève nonetheless put out a full-strength side to finish the job against Ajaccio.
Yaya Sanogo came close to opening the scoring early on but was just short of getting on the end of Ibrahim Sangaré's ball into the box (6'). François Moubandje was the next Téfécé player to threaten the Corsicans' goal, though Riffi Mandanda - Olympique de Marseille and France star Steve's younger brother - did well to turn the Switzerland left-back's effort around the post (18').
Ajaccio actually ended the first half with more possession than their hosts and came close themselves when Moussa Maâzou got free on the right-hand side and squared for Riad Nouri, but Mandanda's opposite number Alban Lafont stopped to save the midfielder's shot (39').
Let-off for Lafont
Toulouse did their best to extend their aggregate advantage in the second half, but Mandanda was in sizzling form, and did brilliantly to deny Gradel and then Jimmy Durmaz in quick succession (58'). At the other end, a rare Lafont mistake nearly led to the opener, but after being caught out of position the 19-year-old was relieved to watch on as Joris Sainati's volley hit the woodwork of his unguarded goal (72').
Sangaré then slalomed forward with the game drawing to a close, but after breaking into the Ajaccio box the Côte d'Ivoire midfielder's shot was well saved by Mandanda (80'). Toulouse finally beat the Ajaccio shot-stopper in the dying minutes thanks to Durmaz (88'), and it ended 1-0 on the night for a 4-0 aggregate win for the hosts.
THE PLAYER: Rifi Mandanda
Mandanda only started this game due to an injury sustained by usual Ajaccio No.1 Jean-Louis Leca in the first leg. On this performance, coach Olivier Panataloni will have some a difficult summer ahead in trying to ascertain who his first choice should be next season as L'ours plan another tilt at promotion.
THE STAT: 18
There has never been a goalless draw in 18 meetings between Toulouse and Ajaccio. One of the highest-scoring fixtures in French football history, a 1-0 win has only happened twice before - for Toulouse in March 2000, and Ajaccio in April 2006.