Buoyant Rennes win again
For the second time in four days, Stade Rennais FC came from behind to win 3-1 at home against 10 men, with SM Caen the victims at Roazhon Park on Sunday.
Stade Rennais FC 3 - 1 SM Caen
There was a buoyant mood at Roazhon Park with Rennes coming into this game fresh from their rousing 3-1 win over Arsenal in their UEFA Europa League last 16, first leg on Thursday. Perhaps fresh was not the word, though, as they started slugglishly and fell a goal behind midway through the first half.
Saîf-Eddine Khaoui intercepted a loose ball midway inside his own half and drove forward across the halfway line before finding Casimir Ninga. He cut in from the left flank and tried his luck from 22 yards, his shot taking a deflection off Edson Mexer on its way into the net (21').
Ninga had also put Caen ahead at home to Paris Saint-Germain in their previous outing before they were pegged back by the champions, and it was to be a similar story here. The sending-off of left-back Yoel Armougom was crucial, though - he was shown a second yellow card in the 35th minute for yet another foul on Ismaïla Sarr.
Bourigeaud does it again
Just like against Arsenal, Rennes profited from seeing their opponents have a player sent off before the interval and drew level thanks to Benjamin Bourigeaud. From the same spot where he netted on the half-volley to pull Julien Stéphan's team level against the Premier League giants, Bourigeaud curled a free-kick into the far corner of the net after M'Baye Niang had been fouled (40').
Rennes then ran away with the game in the second half, in large part thanks to the brilliance of Sarr. He flew away from Jonathan Gradit and Ismaël Diomande on the right wing before crossing low to the far post where the unmarked Adrien Hunou scored to put the hosts ahead (58').
Caen in big trouble
Shortly after that, Sarr terrorised Gradit again on the right before cutting the ball back for Niang to sweep home and mark his return to the line-up after suspension with a goal (62'). Rennes then comfortably saw out the victory, although Caen did have another goal disallowed for offside in the latter stages - Diomandé diverted in a deflected Ninga shot from close range, but he was ahead of the last defender (77').
Caen have still not won a league game in 2019 and remain deep in trouble in the automatic relegation places. In contrast, Rennes remain in touch with the teams above them in the fight for European qualification. But for now the focus returns to this season's Europa League, as they head to London for the second leg of their tie against Arsenal on Thursday.
THE PLAYER: Ismaïla Sarr
Bourigeaud deserves a mention for his latest goal, but Sarr was the key here. The Senegalese starlet provoked the yellow card that changed this game, and then set up both second-half goals for the hosts. Having already scored against Arsenal on Thursday, the English side know to watch out for the Bretons' leading marksman at the Emirates Stadium in the second leg.
THE STAT: 14
Rennes are now unbeaten in 14 home games in all competitions at Roazhon Park since Stéphan was appointed.