Maja rescues draw for Bordeaux against Montpellier
English youngster Josh Maja came off the bench and scored to rescue a 1-1 draw for Bordeaux against Montpellier, who had taken a first-half lead through Andy Delort.
Girondins de Bordeaux 1-1 Montpellier Hérault SC
Montpellier finished sixth last season, eight places and 18 points better off than Saturday's hosts, and the gulf in class seemed to be apparent early on at the Matmut Atlantique. Bordeaux goalkeeper Benoît Costil had already been called upon to keep out a pair of chances - from Jordan Ferri (8') and Gaëtan Laborde (11') respectively - before he found himself picking the ball out of his net, with Delort volleying home Laborde's cross (22'). Bordeaux threatened to get back on level terms just past the half-hour, though, when Samuel Kalou latched onto Nicolas De Préville's through-ball, but Geronimo Rulli - on loan at MHSC from Real Sociedad - threw himself at the Nigerian's feet to quell the danger (31').
Bordeaux coach Paulo Sousa threw on English youngster Maja for the more defensively-minded Toma Basic for the second half, and the extra attacking impetus nearly reaped instant rewards when Kalu found a yard of space, but his shot came back off the post (46'). Bordeaux centre-back Laurent Koscielny - making his first Ligue 1 Conforama start in more than nine years - had a quiet first half, but his experience was on display past the hour when he slipped a fine through-ball to Maja, only for the Sunderland-trained youngster to fire straight at Rulli (65'). The 20-year-old made amends minutes later, though, stealing in ahead of Hilton before equalising from close range (70'). Koscielny's central defensive partner Pablo headed narrowly wide soon after (78') and the hosts thought their profligacy had been punished when Souleymane Camara stroked home, but his effort was ruled out for offside (88') and it ended 1-1.
THE PLAYER: Josh Maja
Maja's first season at Bordeaux was cut short after just seven games due to a knee injury, and the youngster must have been sweating about his first-team opportunities after South Korea striker Hwang Ui-jo was signed from Gamba Osaka in the summer, but he could be set for further inclusion after his game-changing performance against Montpellier.
THE STAT: 4
This was the first time in four home matches that Bordeaux had managed to avoid defeat - each of the previous losses to the tune of a frustrating one-goal margin. This result might not seem like much at this early stage, but Bordeaux's ability to dig deep against last season's European aspirants suggest they may just have turned a corner.