Rennes deny Bordeaux on Sousa debut
By A. Scott
M'Baye Niang scored in stoppage time as a tired Stade Rennais FC snatched a 1-1 draw away to Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday, making it a frustrating debut for new home coach Paulo Sousa.
Girondins de Bordeaux 1 - 1 Stade Rennais FC
Sousa was taking charge of Bordeaux for the first time, having watched last weekend's 1-1 draw away at AS Monaco from the stands before beginning work with his new side. He will have been pleased with aspects of their performance here at the Matmut Atlantique, although they ultimately paid the price for an inability to put the game to bed.
Rennes were feeling the effects of their UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Arsenal less than 72 hours earlier, with coach Julien Stéphan making just two changes to his starting line-up - Clément Grenier dropped to the bench and Hatem Ben Arfa was missing altogether, as James Léa-Siliki and Adrien Hunou came into their starting XI.
After a first-half of little goalmouth incident, the visitors started strongly after the restart and almost went ahead when Léa-Siliki's cross from the left was headed off his own crossbar by Maxime Poundjé (48').
Kamano grabs opener
However, it was Bordeaux who took the lead just before the hour mark. Youssouf Sabaly's cross from the right was nodded on by Nicolas De Préville at the near post, and François Kamano turned it in at the back post after his initial effort had been blocked by Tomáš Koubek (59'). It was a ninth Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the campaign for the Guinean winger, and the first goal of the Sousa era.
Rennes almost equalised immediately, with Niang turning in a Hunou centre from the left, but the celebrations were cut short by the offside flag, raised because Hunou was marginally ahead of the last defender in the build-up.
Rennes kept going, though, and were rewarded in stoppage time. Romain Del Castillo played a corner short to fellow substitute Grenier, and his cross was nodded on by Toma Basic. The ball dropped to Ismaïla Sarr, and his shot was blocked before falling for Niang to sweep home (90+2').
It was a deflating finish for the home side, but Sousa - who lined his team up in a 3-4-3 formation here - can now look forward to two weeks on the training ground before their next game against Amiens SC on March 31. Rennes, meanwhile, deserved the point and will look forward to a break after playing 19 games since the turn of the year.
THE PLAYER: M'Baye Niang
It looked as though it would be a frustrating day for the Senegal forward after he had a first effort disallowed for offside. But he was eventually rewarded in stoppage time, scoring to save Rennes from defeat and move on to six Ligue 1 Conforama goals for the season, more than any of his teammates.
THE STAT: 100
This was the 100th top-flight meeting of the clubs. There have now been 27 draws in that time, with Bordeaux still holding the upper hand on 45 victories to 28.