Rennes victorious in crunch clash
Rennes put a miserable last week behind them by edging PSG to get their title bid back on track.
Saturday, 5 February
Stade Rennais FC 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain
Rennes are renowned as a club for giving youth its chance, and they were thankful to one of their young promises here, as Yacine Brahimi, who turns 21 next week, scored the only goal of the game in the first-half to take the Breton club level on 37 points with second-placed PSG.
It is a much-needed win for Frédéric Antonetti’s men, whose confidence must have been shattered after going down 5-1 at Sochaux last weekend and then being knocked out of the French Cup following a 4-3 loss in extra-time to Ligue 2 Reims. Rennes had conceded nine in two matches after letting in just one in their previous eight outings, and they might have feared being cut open again here by a Paris side that has been in free-scoring form all season.
Antoine Kombouaré’s men arrived at the Stade de la Route de Lorient without a clean sheet in any of their last seventeen competitive matches, however, and they fell behind here with nineteen minutes gone when Brahimi jinked his way past several white shirts on the edge of the box before sending in a low shot that beat Apoula Edel low to his left.
Rennes deserved to be in the lead at the break against a Paris side – lining up in a 4-2-3-1 with Mathieu Bodmer starting and Mevlut Erding on the bench – that showed plenty of attacking intent without really troubling the home backline.
After the restart, Ludovic Giuly squandered a fine chance to level the scores when, through with just Nicolas Douchez to beat, he overran the ball and allowed the Rennes ‘keeper to intercept. Giuly and Nenê then combined to set up a superb chance for Guillaume Hoarau inside the final twenty minutes, but the big French international stabbed his effort from point-blank range straight at Douchez.
An equalising goal would have been harsh on the home side, however. They were impressive in midfield especially, where Yann M’Vila and Alex Tettey offer so much energy and drive, and could have increased their lead with twelve minutes to play when substitute Abdoul Razzagui Camara tried to place a shot across Edel and into the far corner, only for the upright to intervene.
One goal was enough, although only just, with Douchez making a fine save to deny Nenê in stoppage time, as the capital club’s poor record on this ground continues. They have not won away to Rennes since the 2001/02 season, and they have now failed to score in their last five visits. The biggest winners of the lot after this clash, however, could be Lille, who will now go seven points clear at the top if they beat Auxerre on Sunday afternoon.