Solid Reims sink Rennes to end winless streak
By A. Scott
Rémi Oudin scored his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal and Stade de Reims claimed a first win in nine games, beating Stade Rennais FC 2-0 at Roazhon Park on Sunday.
Stade Rennais FC 0 - 2 Stade de Reims
Reims have badly hampered since returning to the top flight by an inability to score goals. However, they put those troubles to one side as they set about taking advantage of any lingering fatigue in the Rennes camp following their UEFA Europa League defeat against Dynamo Kiev less than 72 hours earlier.
Moussa Doumbia had already forced a save from Abdoulaye Diallo from the edge of the box before the Malian winger played a part in the goal that saw Reims take the lead in the 16th minute. He, Marvin Martin and Xavier Chavalerin combined to set up Oudin, whose shot from the right side of the penalty box flew past Diallo and into the far top corner via a deflection off the neck of Ramy Bensebaini.
Reims then sat back and soaked up the pressure, with their defence well marshalled by the Belgian summer signing Björn Engels. Indeed, it took Rennes until the 45th minute to muster a shot on target, with Hatem Ben Arfa forcing a good save from Édouard Mendy from a free-kick awarded after Martin had fouled Clément Grenier just outside the box.
Rennes coach Sabri Lamouchi switched goalkeepers at the break, with Tomáš Koubek coming on for Diallo, and the Bretons started the second half well, with Ben Arfa forcing Mendy into a terrific stop (49').
But Reims then delivered a sucker punch as they extended their lead in the 53rd minute, Oudin meeting a Martin corner at the near post and his header going in via a big touch off Benjamin André.
The visitors then set about stopping Rennes from getting any way back into the game, with the excellent Mendy making several saves, notably to keep out an André header six minutes from time. That's a seventh clean sheet already this season for Reims, who leapfrog their opponents in the table thanks to this result.
THE PLAYER: Björn Engels
Reims defended superbly as a team, but Engels deserves a special mention. The Belgian, signed in the summer from Olympiacos, let nothing past him all afternoon and on this evidence coach David Guion has an outstanding leader of his back line.
THE STAT: 9
A first win in nine Ligue 1 Conforama outings for Reims, but they had been playing well in recent weeks and this result was overdue. Now they will hope to build on it, with Thierry Henry's AS Monaco up next weekend.