Buoyant Strasbourg win at Toulouse
By A. Scott
RC Strasbourg Alsace continued their excellent start to 2019 with a 2-1 victory away against Toulouse FC at Le Stadium on Sunday.
Toulouse FC 1 - 2 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Strasbourg came into this game in buoyant mood after beating Olympique Lyonnais to qualify for the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue in midweek. And they took the lead here in the 17th minute, giant striker Ludovic Ajorque playing a one-two with Adrien Thomasson before finishing through the legs of home goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet for his second goal in as many games.
Toulouse had come close twice before that through Issiaga Sylla, and Alain Casanova's side - themselves boosted by three wins in their previous four games in all competitions - got back on level terms before the half-hour mark.
When captain Max Gradel ended up on the ground in the penalty box after a challenge by Jonas Martin, referee Hakim Ben El Hadj initially did not give anything. However, he eventually decided to review the images pitchside before awarding a penalty. With Gradel not allowed to come back on to take the kick after going off to receive treatment, Yaya Sanogo instead stood up to score his first of the season from 12 yards (29').
Sissoko heads in winner
Thomasson and Ajorque both came close for the visitors early in the second half, but this game ultimately hinged on two incidents at either end of the pitch in the space of three minutes just past the hour mark.
First Matz Sels did brilliantly to tip a Steven Moreira strike around the post after the livewire Matthieu Dossevi did well to create the chance (62'). Then Ibrahima Sissoko rose unchallenged to head in a Dimitri Liénard corner in the 64th minute to put Strasbourg back in front. Reynet hesitated between staying on his line and coming for the ball - in the end he could only help it on its way in.
Thierry Laurey's side have now lost just once in eight in all competitions since the start of December, and this result is a huge one for them as they push for a top-half finish. Next they go to Grenoble for a rearranged Coupe de France tie in midweek. Toulouse continue to look nervously over their shoulders towards the relegation zone.
THE PLAYER: Ibrahima Sissoko
Sissoko is a very talented young midfielder who has quickly settled into life in the top flight after his move from Stade Brestois 29 in the last close season. He needs to add more goals to his game though - his match-winner here was his first goal since the 2-0 victory at Girondins de Bordeaux on the opening weekend of the campaign.
THE STAT: 7
Toulouse have gone seven home league games without a win, picking up just three points from a possible 21 at Le Stadium, since beating Nîmes Olympique 1-0 at the end of August. They will hope to end that wretched run when they entertain Lyon in a rearranged fixture in midweek.