A pair of Ligue 1 midweek games saw three Americans in action; most notably Tim Weah’s return for Lille on Wednesday night.
Lille 3 – 1 Lorient
After being sidelined for six weeks, Tim Weah was fit enough to make the bench and then make a second half appearance for the defending French champions as they made easy work on a relegation threatened Lorient. This was their first win of 2022.
Les Dogues scored all of their goals in the first half; well scored two and were helped along with an own goal credited to Lorient’s defender Moritz Jenz. Isaac Lihadji found the back of the net before that one and Reinildo Mandava after the OG.
The 5000 home fans were on their feet after only 10 minutes when Lille broke up the left flank and Jonathan Bamba got off his shot from a tight angle that Paul Nardi pushed away. Unfortunately the push was weak and it ricocheted off his defender with the ball ending up at the feet of Lihadji, who tapped in his first goal of the season from a yard out.
It was a free kick from the top of the box that saw the home side double their lead. Nardi was the culprit yet again when the ball came at him and he pushed it away from an attacker but yet again, he only managed to push it onto his own defender and again, ended up picking the ball out of the back of his net.
The third goal, which came on the half hour mark, was from another free kick that was not far from where the previous one was taken. This time it was Renato Sanches who sailed the ball into the box. Nardi was again in a mood to punch or push it clear but this time he never got a hand to it; instead it was the Mozambique international’s head that made contact first and sent it past the hapless French keeper.
The American came on in the 68th minute but Lille felt that the game was already won and didn’t press forward with any conviction. In fact it was the visitors who had a few sniffs at goal but Ivo Grbic was in a saving mood. His clean sheet however disappeared in stoppage time when he mimicked his opposite on the field and made a poor job of pushing the ball out of harm’s way. It ended up at the feet of Sambou Soumano, who tucked it in from close range in the 92nd minute.
With some game time under his belt as he works his way back to full fitness, Weah will hope to get back in the starting lineup when his side travels to Brest for a Saturday afternoon kick-off.
Montpellier 0 – 1 Troyes
Erik Palmer-Brown started again last night when ESTAC headed south to take on Montpellier. It was a fruitful trip for the struggling Ligue 1 side as they managed to get one past the Swiss goalkeeper, Jonas Omlin and keep a clean sheet themselves.
The American defender put in an 86 minute shift, while Nicholas Gioacchini came off the bench to play the last 15 minutes for the hosts in this game that was only separated by Xavier Chavalerin’s 74th minute net bender.
Gauthier Gallon was called into action early on when Jordan Ferri shot from the top of the box. The French keeper however parried it away and then had to get back on his feet to save a second attempt. Off the corner, Joris Chotard went for the spectacular with a bicycle kick but Troyes’ Gallon made the save.
ESTAC also created a couple of half-chances in the first half but they came to nothing and both teams headed into the locker rooms all square.
The game changed in the 63rd minute when a moment of stupidity saw Teji Savanier step on the knee of a grounded Oualid El Hajjamof, who had just denied the Frenchman putting a cross into the box from the right side of goal. Referee Jeremy Stinat was too far from the action but VAR intervened and Stinat flashed his red card. This was the Montpellier captain’s seventh sending off and second of this season.
The visitors took advantage of the extra man and put together a string of attacks until finally, with 16 minutes left on the clock, the ball fell to Chavalerin at the top of the D and the Frenchman hit a beautiful curler first time for his fifth of the season.
Palmer-Brown soon went off, having did his part to secure the clean sheet, while Gioacchini came on with not enough time to really get into the flow of the game.
The three points see Troyes put a few points between themselves and the relegation zone, where they have climbed to 15th place. They will do their best to widen the gap over the weekend when they travel again, this time to Angers. Montpellier, on the other hand missed their chance to jump up to fifth place and will host Monaco on Sunday afternoon.