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French Recap: Balogun Bags 20th Goal as Reims Shares Spoils

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Folarin Balogun set a landmark achievement as Reims shared the points with Angers, while Tim Weah and Lille kept their European hopes alive with a big win over Marseille.

Reims 2-2 Angers

With not much to play for both sides, but pride in this contest, the Reims and Angers clubs shared the points on a night that spoiled Folarin Balogun’s massive achievement.

Balogun received the highest match rating out of the three Americans with a wealthy 8.0. The striker not only was the goal scorer but was also the playmaker – the loanee created the most chances (two) out of anyone in the match. Balogun saw 75 percent of his passes successful, very good for an attacker and someone who’s trying to provide for his teammates. He had a total of four shots, three of them being on target, and 100 percent cross-completion. He, along with Weah and Palmer-Brown, played the full 90 minutes.

Junya Ito gives the home side an early lead inside ten minutes. A long ball from the center-back Yunis Abdelhamid successfully found the Japanese international, whose touch gave him room to cut inside to his left foot and rifle a shot at the keeper’s near post. You make your call on whether the goal is better than the assist and vice-versa. Reims kept their 1-0 lead going into the interval.

Angers leveled the score in the 46th minute which looked to stem from a heavy touch by Balogun. Sada Thioub grabbed the loose ball and sprinted down the right flank, whipping a cross into the danger zone to Abdallah Sima, who attempted a strike to the left post but was left for Halid Sabanovic on a silver platter and he left no doubt with the finish.

‘Flo’ Balogun, the man of the hour restored Reims’ lead in the 54th minute. It all started from a corner for Will Still’s side but was promptly cleared out, and redistributed back to Maxime Busi, lobbed all the way over to Marshall Munetsi on the right wing, crossing it in and managed to find the right foot of the newly USMNT No.9. Goal number 20 for the Arsenal loanee and he becomes the first-ever American to score 20 in a Europe’s top five leagues.

It didn’t take long for Angers to respond and on the hour mark, the skipper Himad Abdelli netted in my second goal of the week candidate. A huge byline cross from Thioub was successfully dealt with by the Reims backline, but a spectacular volley from Abdelli, curving away from the keeper to the top right corner leveled the contest and a slight annoyance to Balogun’s big achievement. However, that’s not taking anything away from the equalizer, that volley was hit so cleanly. The match would eventually end 2-2 with Balogun’s Reims comfortably sitting in the middle of the table. Reims will travel to face Lyon for their next game.

Lille 2-1 Marseille

Tim Weah and Lille are still in a fight for a place in next season’s edition of the UEFA Europa League or Conference League with a win against the only UCL winner in France keeping their dreams possible.

The American played all 90 minutes at right-back, in charge of making darting runs on the right flank and helping solidify the defense. He picked up a 7.5-match rating with 100 percent successful dribbles, seven passes into the final third, and a healthy 72 percent passing accuracy. His defending stats are just as good with five recoveries, four interceptions, a clearance, and a block. A quality shift from the former PSG man.

It was the visitors that struck first blood in the 29th minute. Jonathan Clauss got in behind Weah from an attack that started with Andre losing the ball in the middle of the park. Clauss found himself in unfamiliar territory on the left flank as he is a right-wing-back. The Frenchman’s shot somehow made it over Chevalier and into the net despite the Lille defenders being a fraction too late from clearing it off the line. The game heads into the break with Marseille leading.

Lille earned themselves a penalty in the 48th minute after some miscommunication between Marseille’s keeper Pau Lopez and his center-backs. Carlos Baleba took this advantage and was fouled in the area. Jonathan David stepped up to the spot and made it goal number 22 of the league campaign after slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.

Former Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez thought he restored the guest’s lead with a goal that was horribly defended from Lille’s perspective but was ultimately ruled out but VAR as the Chilean was caught in an offside position.

A third Jonathan saw himself on the scoresheet and it was Bamba for Lille. It came from yet another loose ball in the middle of the park and this time Lille punished Marseille and took the lead for the first time in the evening. Angel Gomes found Remy Cabella at the edge of Marseille’s left flank and whipped the ball towards Bambae to head home.

The game would end 2-1 for the home side and it was deserved. Weah’s Lille stays in fifth, in a UECL spot, and only two points away Monaco’s UEL fourth position after losing to Lyon 3-1. However, Rennes is still one point behind Lille and set to face Monaco. Any result would benefit Lille as they’re sandwiched between the two, fighting for European places. A win against Nantes in Lille’s next match at home is vital.

Troyes 1-1 Strasbourg

Erik Palmer-Brown and Troyes ended their three-game losing streak with a draw at home against a rejuvenated Strasbourg, but are without a win since the second day of the new year, which just happened to be the reverse of this fixture.

The Ohio-born defender played all 90 minutes and received an average of 6.8, his best since the first of April. Despite the early yellow and two other fouls committed, EPB saw 91 percent of his passes completed, and 100 percent successful tackles. He was very busy defensively on Sunday as he accumulated seven recoveries, eight clearances, and an interception.

He did receive an early booking, his fifth of the season, in the 22nd minute of the match after fouling Ismael Doukoure who left him for dead on the counter.

Mouhamadou Diarra gave Strasbourg the lead in the 27th minute with an absolute belter. The Frenchman fought off some defenders and didn’t have many passing options going forward. He decided to test the Troyes keeper from miles out and it made it past Gallon in the bottom right corner. One of my two goals of the week candidates here, read more to find out the second. The teams headed into their respective dressing rooms with the score of 1-0 in favor of the visitors.

Troyes goalkeeper, Gallon, saw a red card in the 58th minute. The 30-year-old rushed out to save a 1v1 situation, but really cost his team as he illegally saved the shot outside his box, leaving the referee no choice but to send him off. Thierno Balde was the one to be sacrificed to bring on Polish loanee keeper, Mateusz Lis.

In just 14 minutes after Troyes lost a man, Strasbourg did the same in the 72nd minute. It was Alexander Djiku, the captain who received his marching orders after initially receiving a yellow, but was overturned by a quick trip to the monitor and changed to a red. A free-kick to Troyes in a dangerous position.

Rony Lopez, calmly as you like, stepped up to take a crack and managed to get around the wall and past the fully extended Lis. The match would eventually end in a 1-1 draw. EPB’s side was already statistically relegated so not much was left to play for. Troyes currently sits 18th in the standings. Troyes will face Angers at home in their next game.

All stats made possible via Fotmob

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Abdul Abdullahi

University Student from Ohio. Massive soccer/football fan and love talking about the beautiful game. Covering anything Chelsea FC and Americans at home and abroad. At the start of his long journey taking one step at a time.

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