Unlucky Rennes held at home by Nice
Stade Rennais FC hit the woodwork three times as they were held to a goalless draw at home to OGC Nice on Sunday to leave the Breton club's hopes of a top-five finish hanging by a thread.
Stade Rennais FC 0-0 OGC Nice
With a winless run of four games having seen their ambitions of a top-four finish slowly disintegrate, Rennes know victory against Nice was a must. The visitors, unbeaten in three, five points better off and with European dreams of their own, would not go quietly, though.
Nice knew all about the threat Hatem ben Arfa, one of their former players, would pose, though that did not stop the ex-Paris Saint-Germain creator rattling the woodwork with a shot from nothing that left goalkeeper Walter Benitez flat-footed (12').
The Argentine was alert to beat away Mbaye Niang's effort soon after (13') as Rennes, who had been beaten 1-0 by Olympique Lyonnais in their last home outing, sought to seize the initiative early.
In addition to their good recent form, Nice had not lost any of their last seven meetings with Rennes, and Bassem Srarfi left-foot drive that flashed just over the crossbar (27') reminded the hosts Patrick Vieira's side had not just come to enjoy the local delicacy, galette saucisse.
Rennes, who were playing their 50th competitive fixture of the season compared to Nice's 35th, lacked a spark, though Hamari Traoré did force another stop from Benitez as the Coupe de France finalists sought the elusive breakthrough (68').
It so very nearly came in the final ten minutes. Adrien Hunou met Ismaïla Sarr's cross and sent a header off the crossbar (80') before making it a hat-trick of unwanted efforts off the woodwork for his side when he struck a post from close range (82').
Rennes' luck would really have been out had goalkeeper Tomas Koubek not kept out Ignatius Ganago's shot from a tight angle (88') from one of Nice's rare forays forward.
THE PLAYER: Adrien Hunou
Very nearly won it for his side, and as tireless as ever. One of Rennes' unsung heroes, who could have embellised his reputation with the local fans still further but for a few centimetres.
THE STAT: 8
This was Rennes' first clean sheet in eight league games — they had kept seven clean sheets in their previous seven matches in the top flight.