Mothiba strikes but Nîmes deny Strasbourg
Lebo Mothiba ended his own goalscoring drought but RC Strasbourg Alsace extended their wait for a win to seven matches as they were pegged back at the death by Nîmes Olympique on Saturday.
Nîmes Olympique 2-2 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Once looking like racing certainties to finish in the top five, Strasbourg had seen their form tail off badly since qualifying for the Coupe de la Ligue final, and Thierry Laurey's men had picked up just three points from their previous six matches before kick-off.
In those circumstances, an early goal always helps, and Mothiba gladly obliged. The South Africa international, picked up from LOSC Lille late in the summer 2018 window, had not found the net in nine games, but he did not look like a striker short of confidence when he clinically half-volleyed home Anthony Gonçalves cross (9').
Nîmes have proven testing opposition on home soil this season, and the hosts hit back with Téji Savanier going close (31') before Anthony Briançon dominated Lamine Koné in the air only to head narrowly wide (44').
An untimely Koné slip allowed Rachid Alioui a clear sight of goal, but Matz Sels pushed out his shot and Lionel Carole came to his goalkeeper's rescue by blocking Renaud Ripart's follow-up (45+3') to preserve his side's slender lead at the break.
Youssouf Fofana appeared to have given Strasbourg some insurance when he added a second goal eight minutes after the restart, neatly sending his shot between Paul Bernardoni's legs after being teed up by Nuno Da Costa (53').
Gonçalves thought he had scored a third only for VAR to spot a foul by Kenny Lala in the build-up (64') and Nîmes very quickly took advantage of the reprieve: Hervé Lybohy, an early substitute for the injured Loïck Landre, connected with a Savanier free-kick to send a looping shot over Sels (66').
The pair who had teamed up to net the only goal of the game when the two sides had met earlier in the season had done it again.
Strasbourg resisted Nîmes pressure until the dying seconds when VAR was used to pinpoint a Koné handball — Savanier nervelessly tucked away the spot-kick to end his team's run of back-to-back defeats, and prolong the agony for Strasbourg (90+1').
THE PLAYER: Téji Savanier
He has scored some spectacular goals, but his fourth of the campaign required more nerve than skill, and he showed he had it in abundance.
THE STAT: 3
Strasbourg can take some consolation from the fact they are only the third side — after Paris Saint-Germain and LOSC Lille — to score more than once in a league game at Nîmes this season.