Week 5 Match Report: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint Germain

SRFC fans

Week 5 Match Report: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint German 13 September 2014

The new improved Stade Rennais march on after the afternoon’ game against champions PSG finished 1-1.  That’s now four games unbeaten for les Rouges et Noirs as they sit temporarily third in Ligue 1.

A near capacity crowd welcomed the players onto the pitch as both teams came into the match on the back of wins in week four.  The opening thirty minutes went by with not much action but plenty of PSG possession.  The first big chance fell to the away side as Lucas Moura floated a long ball over the Rennes defence.  Edson Mexer could only get a slight touch with his head before Zlatan Ibrahimovic improvised well with an overhead kick only to see it saved by Benoit Costil.  Rennes fashioned their first chance minutes later as Sanjin Prcic did well to beat his man before curling an effort which was comfortably saved by Salvatore Sirigu.  PSG were inches away from taking the lead shortly after as a wonderful long ball from Marco Verratti found Ibrahimovic in the Rennes box but his cushioned volley smacked back off the crossbar.  This should have served as a big warning for the home side but they failed to react as moment later a Gregory Van Der Wiel cross evaded everyone except for Zoumana Camara as the veteran central defender slotted home.  That was pretty much the last action of the half as PSG went into the break with the lead their domination in possession warranted.

Costil Ibra

Rennes began the second half much brighter as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ola Toivonen fashioned half chances for les Rouges et Noirs.  Ten minutes into the second half and Philippe Montanier made his first change as Paul-Georges Ntep came on for Pedro Henrique.  Seconds later and Rennes were level in bizarre circumstances.  The ball was played out to Ntep on the right, he cut in and crossed for Doucoure.  As the PSG defence froze, incorrectly assuming Doucoure to be offside, the Rennes number eight played at but missed the ball as the unintentional dummy fooled Sirigu and the ball rolled into the net.  A significant stroke of fortune for the home side but as the second half went on, it proved to be a deserved slice of luck.  All of a sudden Rennes were in the ascendancy and had the best chance to take the lead shortly after.  Toivonen, on the counter attack, played a long ball up field.  Ntep showed blistering pace to charge beyond Maxwell but his near post shot was brilliantly saved by Sirigu.  At the other end, Costil made important saves from an Edinson Cavani shot and crosses from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Van Der Wiel.  As the game entered the last ten minutes it became clear both teams were settling for the draw as both sets of players looked tired and with the PSG players with half an eye on their midweek Champions League game.  Rennes had one final chance with a free kick late on but it was wasted as the referee blew the final whistle.

Ntep PSG - AFP

A really encouraging performance from Rennes after a poor first half.  There was a degree of organisation in the defence we haven’t seen for a while.  There really does seem to be an excellent relationship blossoming between Mexer and Sylvain Armand with Mexer providing the pace and Armand the experience.  In front of them, Gelson Fernandes continued his brilliant start to life back in Ligue 1 as he put in a superb performance full, breaking up attack after attack and providing an reassuring presence in front of the defence.  Henrique and Ntep provided lots of pace and menace down the wings.  Costil, again, provided a number of crucial saves and interceptions as he continued to stake his claim as the best goalkeeper in the division.  Toivonen put in his usual sterling effort up front as with little support he fought for the ball, came deep where needed and was a nuisance where possible.  In terms of negatives, players such as Doucoure and Vincent Pajot need reduce the number of misplaced passes they make.  Prcic needs to get involved in the game more as whilst he has the skill and talent to succeed, he is too often anonymous in the game.

Up next for Rennes is a trip to Marseille next Saturday afternoon.  A repeat of the win from last season would be most welcome and with renewed optimism slowly creeping into the side, it wouldn’t be out of the question.

Reactions

Montanier: “It’s satisfying to have equalised. The second half was satisfying, too. We were more enterprising, more incisive going forward against a Paris team that is always difficult to play against. We knew that they are capable of exploiting the slightest weakness – you saw that – so we couldn’t show them any weakness. We also wanted to optimise our use of the ball, which we struggled to do in the first half and did better in the second. I think we stayed very united. The goal before half-time hurt us a bit, but the players maintained the same attitude, the same solidarity and cohesion – that was important.”

Romain Danze: “Taking a point against Paris is always a good result.  This result allows us not to have too much pressure before a series of tough games. We put a lot of heart to apply our defensive instructions. Of course, Paris made ​​the game yet we coped with our resources. It’s not a great spectacle but we are here to win points.”

Fernandes: “Paris consistently dominated this match in particular with their technical mastery. They are a great team. We produced a second half full of power and desire. With even more luck, we could have completed a robbery. We have a tough schedule, we’ve got by well so far this season. Tonight we completed a good plan.”

Teams

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot (Konradsen 86′), Henrique (Ntep 55′), Doucoure, Prcic (Moreira 78′), Toivonen

Goal: Ntep 55′

Yellow Card: M’Bengue 77′

PSG: Sirigu, Van Der Wiel, Camara, Marquinhos, Maxwell, Motta (Matuidi 72′), Verratti, Pastore (Cabaye 83′), Lucas (Lavezzi 72′), Cavani, Ibrahimovic (C)

Goal: Camara 43′

Yellow Card: Verratti 76′

Man of the Match

Gelson Fernandes – the Swiss international put in one of his best performances to date against the champions.  He broke up countless attacks and disrupted the PSG forward line to limit the chances of them finding the dangerous Ibrahimovic.  Quickly looking like one of the signings of the season.

Photos courtesy of: @antoinegbt, @MenardMalika, AFP.

Week 4 Match Report: SM Caen v Stade Rennais

Caen Rennes

Week 4 Match Report: SM Caen v Stade Rennais – 30 August 2014

Stade Rennais came away with all three points in Le Mans as they faced a Julien Feret led Caen, despite not being at their best.  With Kamil Grosicki and Paul-Georges Ntep restored to the starting 11, les Rouges et Noirs struggled against a Caen side who were determined from the off.

Within the opening 15 minutes, Caen had created two good chances.  After picking up a loose ball 20 yards out, Feret saw a rasping drive fly just the wrong side of the post.  Minutes later Bangaly-Fode Koita rose highest from a corner to crash a header against the crossbar.  Rennes had been given two warning shots early in the game.

The main talking point of the half came 30 minutes in.  After early picking up a yellow card for a late lunge on Ntep, N’Golo Kante lost his head when lunging in on Vincent Pajot and picked up a second booking and the inevitable red card.  The foul seemed to get to Pajot as he was booked shortly after for a similarly wild challenge on Herve Bazile.

Stade Rennais’ first real chance came late in the half as a Ntep cross found Abdoulaye Doucoure in the Caen penalty area, he knocked it down to Ola Toivonen.  The Swede took a heavy touch on his knee which meant the ball failed to come down in time leading to his shot flying over the bar.

Rennes fans Caen

Shortly after the break, Rennes made a double change as Grosicki and Pajot were replaced by Sanjin Prcic and Pedro Henrique.  The away side were on the back foot for most of the second half as Caen piled forward with attack after attack.  Crucially though they failed to create a clear cut chance.  Something they would go on to regret.

As the game wore on, it seemed that Caen were the most likely to get a winner.  Rennes though, should have been awarded a penalty less than 10 minutes from time as Henrique burst into the box only to be brought down by Thomas Lemar.  It seemed a clear infringement but the referee waved play on.  With only two minutes left, Jordan Adeoti needlessly brought down substitute Philipp Hosiner before Toivonen scored.  Hearts were in mouths as the referee disallowed the goal before fortunately pointing to the spot.  That left Toivonen the simple task of sending Caen goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way to put les Rouges et Noirs ahead.

Rennes held out for victory, a win which takes them provisionally up to 5th place in Ligue 1.  It was encouraging to see les Rouges et Noirs come away with the points in a game where they were second best.  This wasn’t the case last season and can only be encouraging for the campaign ahead.  After the match, Caen native Costil agreed by saying that “this may seem like robbery”, he went on to say that “the win was important as we have important upcoming games against Paris and Marseille”.

There’s now a two week international break before the Stade de la Route de Lorient plays host to the visit of champions Paris Saint Germain.

Reactions

Montanier: “We didn’t do an awful lot in the game and finding ourselves with an extra man did not really help us.  We never really managed to get the ball moving or create clear chances.  We had put together two good performances in a row and we were really hopeful coming into this match.  We were confident and thought we could show our qualities.  In the first half we won the ball back well and defended well but we struggled going forward.  And things became complicated after we found ourselves with the extra man.  Caen defended in numbers and were well organised, and we lacked the quality to break them down.  Against a brave and hard-working team like that the passing needs to be better, but we kept believing right to the end, even if we weren’t good.  We can be very satisfied with the result but we will know not to get carried away after that match.”

Pajot: “It was a tough game, we struggled to create chances.  The important thing is the victory. It has not demobilised us, we knew we had to be patient to score and that’s what we did.  When they were reduced to ten men, it bothered us.  This will serve as a lesson.  Every game since the beginning of the season is different.  It will be a mixture of all those as we try to get a good result against Paris!”

Doucoure: “We came to win.  It was difficult but we did it.  We are increasing momentum over the games, so it will be more automatic.  We will continue to gain momentum.”

Teams

SM Caen: Vercoutre, Appiah, Pierre, Calve, Da Silva, Kante, Adeoti, Feret (C), Nangis, Koita (Raspentino 65′), Bazile (Lemar 78′)

Yellow Card: Kante 16′, 29′

Red Card: Kante 29′

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot (Prcic 59′), Doucoure, Ntep (Hosiner 79′), Grosicki (Henrique 59′), Toivonen

Yellow Card: Pajot 33′, Armand 74′

Man of the Match: Costil – yet again, the Rennes number one produced a number of saves to keep les Rouges et Noirs in the game. An indispensable member of the team in a week where he should have received his first call up to les Bleus.

Pictures courtesy of http://www.ouest-france.fr and http://www.staderennais.com.

Week 3 Match Report: Saint-Etienne v Stade Rennais

Week 3 Match Report: Saint-Etienne v Stade Rennais – 24 August 2014

A really determined, backs against the wall performance from Stade Rennais saw them come away from le Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with a well deserved point after a 0-0 draw for the second season running.

With Kamil Grosicki not recovered from injury, Sanjin Prcic was moved to the right wing with Abdoulaye Doucoure starting in the attacking midfield role. It meant Paul-Georges Ntep started from the bench for the second week running.

Backed by a boisterous crowd, the home side started confidently with three former Stade Rennais players in their starting eleven.  Fabien Lemoine, Mevlut Erding and Kevin Theophile-Catherine on his debut for les Verts.

Pedro Henrique was the man at the centre of the action for the away side.  An accidental collision with Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin left the Brazilian with a bloody nose.  Once that had been cleared up, a high boot from Henrique on Theophile-Catherine got tempers flared.  There were words between the winger and Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier before Philippe Montanier stepped in to calm the player.

The first big chance of the game fell to les Rouges et Noirs as a raking long field pass from Ola Toivonen found an onrushing Henrique who saw his first time shot crash back off the post.  The rebound fell to Prcic but the Bosnian’ follow up was off target.  It was the wake up call the home side needed and shortly after saw the most contentious moment of the match.

Kevin Monnet-Paquet got the to the touchline and managed to cross, Cheik M’Bengue and Erding had a coming together and whilst contact was minimal at most, the former Stade Rennais man fell to the floor and penalty was awarded.  It was a very soft decision but karma was restored as Erding’ poor penalty was saved by Benoit Costil as half time arrived.

Shortly after the break, Ntep replaced Henrique who still seemed ruffled after the earlier scuffle with Galtier.  Whilst Ntep’ pace provided an outlet, it became obvious the point was what Montanier was happy with.  This began a trend as Stade Rennais sat back allowing the home side to come at them with wave after wave of attack.  Fortunately for the Breton’s, Saint-Etienne really struggled with a quality final ball and failed to produce clear cut chances.

As the minutes ticked by, the pressure grew and grew as the crowd urged the home side on.  That one big chance never materialised for les Verts and as a dangerous free kick deflected off the wall and out of play, the referee blew his whistle and Stade Rennais had earned a deserved point.

Whilst at times it was frustrating to see Toivonen so isolated and forced to come very deep for the ball, it was clear after 45 minutes that a draw would have been satisfactory.  With that in mind, it was satisfying to see a much more organised defence lead by captain Romain Danze, who is clearly a better right back than midfielder, a notion which must be forgotten, even when Benjamin Andre is back and fit.  The defence was given excellent protection from Gelson Fernandes and Vincent Pajot who were the real stand out players for les Rouges et Noirs as they cut out attacks, made important tackles and provided calm distribution throughout the game.

Next up for Stade Rennais is a trips to Le Mans to face a Caen side lead by veteran and former Stade de la Route de Lorient favourite, Julien Feret.

Finally, just a note to wish a Happy Birthday to one of my personal favourite Stade Rennais players, Kim Kallstrom!

Quotes

Montanier: “We expected a tough game and it was.  We knew that to get the draw we had to have a fighting spirit.  They replied in their impact and in the tackle.  We played a solid game including the best opportunity in the first half.  There has also been some technical mastery today.  We have progressed.”

M’Bengue: “That’s a good point.  We deserved the draw.  The manager was focused on our defensive play.  We really wanted to concede no goals.  Personally, I feel better and better, I’m happy with my game.”

Fernandes: “This is the reward for a hard week of work.  I’m happy with my game.  In the midfield, we battled against a great team in Saint-Etienne, who are most certainly an underdog for the championship.”

 

Teamsheet

Saint-Etienne: Ruffier, Theophile-Catherine, Sall, Perrin (Capt), Tabanou, Corgnet (Gradel 60′), Cohade, Lemoine, Hamouma (Brison 88′), Monnet-Paquet, Erding (van Wolsfwinkel 56′)

Yellow Cards: Corgnet 43′, Sall 87′

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (Capt), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot, Doucoure, Prcic (Moreira 75′), Henrique (Ntep 50′), Toivonen (Hosiner 84′)

Yellow Cards: Fernandes 29′, M’Bengue 50′, Armand 70′

Man of the Match: Fernandes

Match Report: Agony All Over Again

Saturday 03 May 2014 – Coupe de France Final: Stade Rennais 0 EA Guingamp 2

A Coupe de France final you say? An all Brittany affair you say? Against Guingamp again you say? Surely Rennes won’t choke again will they? History won’t repeat itself will it? Er….yes as it goes!  In Saturday night’s domestic cup showpiece, Guingamp were the ones to put in a performance of determination, positivity and desire as they repeated their 2009 success over Rennes with a comfortable as you like 2-0 victory.

Prior to kick off and the Stade de France was bathed in sunlight with a packed house full of raucous Bretons who having drunk the bars dry of beer, were in full cheer.  After a pitch perfect performance of the Breton anthem Bro Gozh ma Zadou and a rousing La Marseillaise, both teams began showing plenty if cup final nerves.

It was the underdogs, Guingamp, who settled the quickest and produced three chances in quick succession through Claudio Beauvue, Christophe Mandanne and Christophe Kerbrat.  It seemed clear that Guingamp’ game plan was to fly out of the blocks and not allow Rennes time on the ball.  A very effective strategy as the Rennes midfield proved non-existent for large parts of the game.  Guingamp were finding joy down the right wing, targeting the inexperience of Steven Moreira with Jonathan Martins-Pereira able to get a number of crosses in to Mustapha Yatabara but a combination of Costil and wasteful finishing meant that Rennes were able to survive until shortly before half time.

Despite having such an excellent season, it was unfortunate that the opening goal came from a Costil mistake as he failed to make a decent connection on a punch clear.  The ball fell to Martins-Pereira, just inside the box and the right back fired a powerful first time shot, which took a slight deflection before into the top corner.  It was a goal which Guingamp entirely deserved for their first half endeavours.  Rennes had gone through the opening 45 minutes barely mustering a shot, passes were being mis-hit and nothing appeared to be clicking.

Rennes would have wanted to make a positive start to the second half but less than a minute in and Guingamp had doubled their lead.  A cross from the excellent Steeven Langil found Yatabare inexcusably unmarked in the six yard to box to head home giving Costil no chance.  The stuffing had been knocked out of Rennes before they’d had chance to think.  It didn’t take long for the first change to be made as Paul-Georges Ntep came on the disappointing Kamil Grosicki on a night where nothing went right for the Pole.

For such a young player, a lot seemed to rest on the shoulders of Ntep but he seemed to cope as Rennes were finally able to produce some chances.  Abdoulaye Doucoure, who had been marked out of the game so far, finally found space and produced a shot which Mamadou Samassa did well to turn behind for a corner.  On the hour mark, Costil showed us all why he is making such a strong claim to be on the plane to Brazil in the summer.  Another cross from the left found Yatabare and with a third goal seemingly on the cards, Costil dived to his left to produce a wonderful instinctive save to keep the deficit to just the two goals.

Despite going all out attack with the introduction of Nelson Oliveira, Rennes were unable to produce many more clear cut chances and in fact it seemed Guingamp were more likely to get another goal with Beauvue just firing wide.  Into injury time and both teams had strong penalty shouts turned down by referee Tony Chapron as both Yatabare and Ntep seemed to be fouled in their respective opponents areas.  To be fair, Rennes simply did not deserve a goal as a dreadful performance was finally ended with the final whistle.  Against the odds, Guingamp had again upset the odds and secured victory in the Coupe de France final.

It’s such a familiar story for Rennes fans that the team just didn’t turn up.  The midfield in particular were so disappointing and despite having plenty of set piece opportunities, the crosses were so poor.  Let’s not take anything away from Guingamp though as they fully deserved their victory and I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate them, the players, staff and most of all the fans who helped produce such a carnival atmosphere in the capital and represented the Brittany region so well.

For Rennes, it doesn’t get much easier as they travel back to the capital on Wednesday to face Paris St Germain at the Parc des Princes with the home side attempting to secure the Ligue 1 title.  All we can do is hope for a better performance and two final league games after that.

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Boye, Armand, Moreira, Makoun (Pajot), Konradsen (Oliviera), Doucoure, Grosicki (Ntep), Toivonen, Alessandrini

EA Guingamp: Samassa, Martins-Pereira, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Leveque, Mathis (C), Sankhare, Beauvue (Atik), Langil (Giresse), Mandanne (Diallo), Yatabare

Goals: 

EA Guingamp: Martins-Pereira 37′, Yatabare, 46′

Man of the Match: I award it to the Guingamp team as it was too tough on such a big occasion to single out an individual

Match Report: Ntep Nicks It In Cup Final Week

Saturday 26 April 2014 – Week 35: Stade Rennais 1 Lorient 1

The spoils were shared in Rennes’ last league Breton Derby of the season as it finished 1-1 at home to Lorient.  Not necessarily the performance we were looking for ahead of the Coupe de France Final but slightly understandable that one eye would have been on next Saturdays big game.

With both first choice full backs out injured, Philippe Montanier named Steven Moreira at left back and surprisingly Vincent Pajot on the right.  From the off this seemed a poor choice as Lorient flew out of the blocks quick to get Kevin Monnet-Paquet on the ball and attacking the out of position Pajot.  With less than three minutes on the clock, a Lorient attack was broken down by Pajot but his clearance only hit teammate John Boye before rebounding towards the goal.  It had to take an excellent reflex save from Benoit Costil to prevent the home side from going a goal down in comical circumstances.

Less than two minutes later and Lorient could have easily had a second as a Monnet-Paquet cross deflected of a number of players before Costil palmed clear.  It was another impressive performance from Costil, strengthening his growing case for a spot in the French World Cup squad.

The theme of the first half was clear with Lorient time and time again targeting Pajot and the inexperienced Moreira.  Rennes were left with scraps in terms of chances.  In the 17th minute, the goal that Lorient had been threatening finally came.  Jeremie Aliadiere found himself space on the right before floating in a perfect free kick to meet the head of Alain Traore who had got free of his marker with a clever near post run.  His glancing header found the far corner perfectly leaving Costil with no chance.

Mere minutes later and Lorient could and perhaps should have been two up.  Monnet-Paquet again had time and space on the left to fire in a great cross which Aliadiere somehow failed to convert in the six yard box.  It took 25 minutes for Rennes to finally threaten as Alessandrini burst into the box, beat the onrushing defender before his powerful shot was well saved by Fabien Audard in the Lorient goal.

Rennes were sent another warning shot as a long ball was finished superbly by Traore on the volley.  Fortunately he was flagged correctly for being offside, but only just.  The home crowd grew impatient as time and time again Rennes were forced to play the ball amongst their defence as Lorient were happy to keep them in their own half.  As the half time whistle blew, the faint echo of boos could be heard coming from the stands.

Rennes came out stronger in the second half and shortly after the break, Ola Toivonen, who had been denied service all night, finally found space to take a shot which was deflected wide.  On the hour mark, Montanier made the key change as Paul-Georges Ntep replaced the quiet Kamil Grosicki.  Almost immediately the youngster was on the ball and running at the Lorient defence.

Although Rennes were in the ascendancy, they were lucky to escape a penalty as the referee signalled a free kick following a Konradsen foul which, after seeing replays, appeared to have taken place inside the area.

Ntep was determined to stake his claim for a Coupe de France Final starting place.  He managed to cut back an Alessandrini cross for Toivonen who poked a shot just wide.  Shortly after Ntep showed pace and trickery to beat two Lorient defenders before sending in a cross which beat everyone but substitute Foued Kadir but he took too long and Audard was able to turn his shot behind.  From the resulting corner, Alessandrini swung in a perfect cross which was firmly headed home by the young starlet.

Both sides had chances to win it in the last 15 minutes.  Vincent Aboubakar, also on as a substitute, forced Costil into a diving save before Doucoure showed great skill to get between two Lorient defenders, his shot well saved by Audard.  With time running out, a Gilles Sunu corner evaded everyone and almost snuck in at the far post.  The final attack of the game forced Costil into another superb save as a Monnet-Paquet shot was tipped wide by the sprawling goalkeeper.

With that the full time whistle went.  Both teams could have won it but a draw was probably the fairest result.  Rennes can now look forward to Saturdays Final and a chance to put to bed the baron, trophy-less years.  I, for one, can’t wait.  Nerves are there, it is Guingamp after all, but there is a big, big chance for Montanier to take the team into Europe off the back of a victory in the showpiece event.

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Pajot, Boye, Armand (C), Moreira, Makoun (Kadir 67′), Konradsen, Doucoure, Grosicki (Ntep 59′), Toivonen, Alessandrini

Lorient: Audard, Ecuele-Manga, Bourillon, Guerreiro, Gassama, Coutadeur (Doukoure 53′), Sunu, Traore (Aboubakar 68′), Lautoa, Aliadiere, Monnet-Paquet

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Ntep 73′

Lorient: Traore 17′

Cards:

Stade Rennais: Armand – Yellow 56′, Makoun – Yellow 57′

Lorient: Lautoa – Yellow 85′

Man of the Match: Costil

Match Report: Back From The Brink In Bordeaux

Saturday 05 April 2014 – Week 32: Girondins de Bordeaux 2 Stade Rennais 2

Courtesy of @staderennais

Courtesy of @staderennais

A chance to go on a four game league and cup winning streak you say?  For the first time since October/November 2012 you say?  Surely not you say?  Well no, in the end the win was not secured but it’s another point and in many ways there was a significant positive to take from the game.  To come back from going two goals behind took real character, a battling character we haven’t really seen so far this season.

It began in ominous circumstances as a very insipid opening half hour went by without so much as a sniff of a chance for either team.  Despite goals being the order of the day in last weeks comprehensive win over Bastia, Ola Toivonen cut a very frustrated figure as he had to come deep and battle for the ball due to the lack of service he was getting.  In the 37th minute, the fans in attendance were given something to wake them up.  Diego Rolan played a lovely through ball which cut the Rennes defence in half and allowed Guillaume Hoarau a clear run in on goal before he slotted calmly passed Benoit Costil to put the home side ahead.

As the half time break came and went, it seemed it would be more of the same in the second half as it began in similar, dour fashion.  On the hour mark, the game came to life again.  Henri Saivet played a ball through which allowed Rolan to run in on goal and fire high beyond Costil.

We’ve seen it many times before the season and many would be forgiven for thinking that was game over.  Far from it.  The second Bordeaux goal seemed to finally wake Rennes up and they suddenly upped their performance levels.  Within a couple of minutes they had pulled a goal back as Jean II Makoun produced a lovely defence splitting pass to find Abdoulaye Doucoure free to score his sixth goal of the season.

Rennes sensed they could get something from the game and only four minutes later they were level.  Kamil Grosicki finally produced the pinpoint accurate cross expected of him which found Romain Alessandrini free at the far post as he expertly finished a volley at an awkward height.

With that it seemed like Rennes could go on and get the winner, but they seemed to be happy with the point and were almost made to pay for it in injury time as Rolan flicked the ball up on the edge of the area before firing a volley that seemed destined for the top corner before Costil produced a stunning save diving high at full stretch to his left to ensure Rennes left with a point.

An excellent come back that I for one didn’t see coming.  It means that is now four league and cup matches unbeaten.  Next up is Monaco at home on Saturday, a very tough test but at least the PSG fans will be in our corner!

As a side note, I’d like to wish Emerson well as his contract was terminated by mutual consent recently.

For now though, allez Les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Girondins de Bordeaux: Carrasso, Mariano, Sane, Orban, Planus, Traore, Sertic, Rolan, Saivet (Diabate 80′), Hoarau, Maurice-Belay

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Kana-Biyik, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun (Boye 81′), Konradsen, Doucoure (Kadir 65′), Grosicki (Moreira 87′), Toivonen, Alessandrini

Goals: 

Girondins de Bordeaux: Hoarau 37′, Rolan, 61′

Stade Rennais: Doucoure 64′, Alessandrini 68′

Cards:

Girondins de Bordeaux: Diabate – Yellow 92′

Stade Rennais: Doucoure – Yellow 47′, Toivonen – Yellow 85′, Grosicki – Yellow 86′

Man of the Match: Rolan

Match Report: Quarters Conquered

Thursday 27 March 2014: Stade Rennais 2 Lille 0

Courtesy of @Goal_ID

Courtesy of @Goal_ID

Through the doom and gloom of the league campaign, a ray of light has emerged with the Coupe de France run.  A run which has now led Rennes to the semi-finals after tonight’s victory over Lille at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

A full strength Rennes team shaded the first half.  They nearly went ahead in the 20th minute as Abdoulaye Doucoure turned on the edge of the area before Ola Toivonen, back in the side after missing the Marseille game, beat him to the ball to blast at goal.  Lille goalkeeper Steeve Elana had to be alert to save with his feet.

At the other Jonathan Delaplace flicked the ball up before volleying at goal, the ball just flying over Benoit Costil’ goal.  The raucous home crowd were rewarded just after the half hour mark as a Romain Alessandrini cross missed Toivonen but found Kamil Grosicki free in the box.  The Pole took a touch before smashing high into the top corner for his first goal for the club.

An Elana flap from a Grosicki cross hinted at the goalkeepers vulnerability with the simple things.  Jean II Makoun just failing to convert the difficult cross with a first time reaction shot just before the break.

Lille came out strong in the second half and put together a sustained period of pressure but struggled to put Costil under serious threat.  It was Rennes who had the big chances as first a handball appeal was turned down by the referee as a Sylvain Armand shot appeared to strike Simon Kjaer’ hand.  Second half substitute Tiemoue Bakayoko almost scored with his first touch but his header was cleared off the line by fellow replacement Marvin Martin.

Salomon Kalou had Lille’ best chance of the game as a lovely patient, passing move lead to Franck Beria crossing in for the Ivory Coast international to blaze over from close range.

As the game wore on, Rennes were resorting to quick counter attacks which served them well in the weekend win over Marseille but tonight, the final ball was just lacking.  It got a little nervy for the home fans as the minutes ticked by until in injury time, Doucoure led another break, he passed to Nelson Oliveira who in turn fed the ball to Alessandrini.  The winger was a long way out but hit a powerful shot which somehow beat Elana and deflected off him into the back of the net.  It was a horror show from the goalkeeper who, despite a little swerve on the shot, should really have done better.

With that the tie was over and as the full time whistle blew, the crowd and players celebrated reaching the semi-finals of another tournament.  Ligue 2 side Angers stand between Rennes and a second successive appearance at the Stade de France.  Rennes however know they can’t take their semi-final opponent lightly as losses to Guingamp and amateur side Quevilly in recent years have proven.

For now thought let’s just celebrate an excellent victory – there have been far too few of those this season!

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Kana-Biyik, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun (Bakayoko 71′), Konradsen, Doucoure, Grosicki (Kadir 81′), Toivonen (Oliveira 60′) , Alessandrini

Lille: Elana, Beria, Basa, Kjaer, Souare, Balmont (C), Gueye, Delaplace (Martin 56′), Rodelin (Mendes 67′), Origi (Roux 73′), Kalou

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Grosicki 35′, Alessandrini 92′

Man of the Match: Armand

Match Report: The Abdoulaye and Benoit Show

Saturday 22 March 2014 – Week 30: Olympique de Marseille 0 Stade Rennais 1

Courtesy of @staderennais

Courtesy of @staderennais

Hands up who saw that coming then? I suppose it was always on the cards. After recent horror shows against Guingamp, Valenciennes and Toulouse, it was typical of Rennes that they would then go to Marseille and come back with all three points, a hugely valuable three points which eases the threat of relegation slightly.

Things started gloomily for Rennes even before the match started with Ola Toivonen forced to start on the bench after injuring his foot in the warm up.  Nelson Oliveira was called in at the 11th hour to start up front.

A pre-match downpour made the playing surface at the Stade Velodrome a little tricky. It showed in the first half as neither team put together many flowing moves.  There were early chances for Marseille through Mathieu Valbuena and Benoit Cheyrou but neither were able to get the better of Benoit Costil in the Rennes goal.

Rennes did eventually muster a chance as Abdoulaye Doucoure fed Romain Alessandrini but the winger couldn’t beat Steve Mandanda who was quick off his line to block his shot.  The ball fell back to Doucoure but he failed to hit the target, blasting his shot over the bar.

Marseille had the final chance of the half as a powerful Andre Ayew effort forced Costil into a smart near post save.

It was the home side who came out strongest in the second half as Cheyrou continued his battle to defeat Costil from distance.  His shot this time however was well wide.  A flowing passing move from Marseille eventually finished with the practically anonymous Florian Thauvin shooting just wide.

In the 76th minute though the deadlock was broken with a goal well worth the wait.  A Valbuena free kick was cleared and a rapid counter attack through Jean II Makoun, Jonathan Pitroipa and Oliveira eventually led to the latter playing the final through ball to Doucoure.  The youngster again showed calmness personified as he slotted beyond Mandanda for the goal that would ultimately secure the points.

Marseille almost scored an instant equaliser but Valbuena failed to head home an Ayew cross when he should have done better.  Dimitri Payet also failed to head on target shortly after.  Jeremy Morel was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after a nasty looking jumping shoulder charge which caught Alessandrini painfully on the jaw.

In the final moments, Rennes fans hearts were in their mouth as Andre-Pierre Gignac, who had been starved of service throughout, was fed through on goal.  His shot deceived Costil who dived the wrong way but the goalkeeper somehow managed to block the goal bound effort with his legs.

With that the final whistle blew and a famous victory had been secured.  A victory which took Rennes 6 points clear of the relegation zone.  The good news continued after the evening kick offs as Ajaccio pulled off an unlikely victory away to Valenciennes to ensure the 6 point gap remained.

Celebrate the good times whilst we can! Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda, Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Cheyrou (Imbula 75′), Romao, Thauvin (Payet 69′), Valbuena, Ayew (Khalifa 81′), Gignac

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Kana-Biyik, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun (Bakayoko 78′), Konradsen, Doucoure, Grosicki (Pitroipa 70′), Oliveira, Alessandrini (Emerson 92′)

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Doucoure 76′

Cards:

Olympique de Marseille: Morel – Yellow 84′

Man of the Match: Costil

Match Report: Rampant Rennes Cook Canaries

Sunday 23 February 2014 – Week 26: Nantes 0 Stade Rennais 3

Courtesy of official Stade Rennais Facebook account

Courtesy of official Stade Rennais Facebook account

Well, hands up who saw that coming? After suffering humiliation in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Rennes put in a performance of real quality and determination to claim back pride and some of the bragging rights in Brittany.

Against the backdrop of a vociferous home crowd, Rennes set out their stall straight away as Paul-Georges Ntep and Cheikh M’Bengue combined well down the left wing with the latter finding Foued Kadir all alone in the area. The on loan man should have made have put Rennes one up but his shot lacked power leaving Remy Riou with a simple save to make.

Ola Toivonen at times seemingly alone up front, showed his battling qualities once more, an example of which came shortly after the Kadir chance as the Swede latched onto a long ball from Romain Danze to volley straight at Riou.

Despite not having the bulk of possession, Rennes were creating the clear cut chances and the breakthrough came in the 16th minute. A ball from M’Bengue found Ntep free down the left, he got to the bye line and with Riou seemingly having the angle covered, the young forward found the tiniest of gaps to lift the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net. An excellent finish from the youngster for his first goal for the club. Just reward for the talent we have seen since he joined.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of the players and fans alike. The rest of the half played out with Nantes struggling to create any clear chances. Serge Gakpe with the best chance, capitalising on a mistake from John Boye to turn and fire over from close range.

Just before half time, Rennes had a strong penalty appeal turned down as Ntep raced onto a long ball only to be barged to floor by Riou. The referee waved play on but replays showed Ntep had a case as the challenge went beyond your typical jostling for the ball.

The half time break seemed to do the trick for the home side as they came out fighting. The Rennes players weren’t allowed time on the ball as Nantes snapped away at them, increasing the pressure but still not creating any goal scoring opportunities. They were clearly missing their suspended captain, Filip Djordjevic.

The pressure soon fizzled out though as Rennes doubled their lead in the 63rd minute. Ntep once again raced clear down the left, found Kamil Grosicki who in turn passed to Anders Konradsen 20+ yards from goal. The Norwegian took a touch and fired in a shot which swerved dramatically away from Riou and into the back of the net. A wonderful first Ligue 1 goal for Konradsen and that pretty much sewed up the points.

An amazing third goal almost followed shortly after. A precise team move of intricate one touch passing that seemed to involve all outfield players eventually lead to Ntep feeding M’Bengue but the left back elected to shoot instead of crossing to Toivonen and his shot was saved.

In the 90th minute the third goal did come. Abdoulaye Doucoure, on as an earlier substitute for Kadir, lead a counter attack and with 2 on 1, put clear Toivonen who showed and icy coolness to sweetly dink the ball over the onrushing Riou and into the back of the net.

With that the full time whistle went and Rennes recorded their biggest ever win in Nantes whilst also leapfrogging them in the table up to 13th. As per yesterday’s preview, this was he perfect start for Philippe Montanier’ men as they go into a run of 4 matches which could really turn the season around.

Guingamp at home next Saturday represents a chance to really build on this win and also gain revenge on another local rival for the reverse fixture back in October.

For now though Rennes can bask in the glory of a hammering of local rivals with 3 goals of the very best quality. Now that is something we can all be happy about.

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Nantes: Riou, Djilobodji (C), Vizcarrondo, Veigneau, Cissokho, Gomis, Bessat (Shechter 56′), Deaux, Gakpe, Nkoudou (Bangoura 56′), Audel (Bedoya 77′)

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Boye, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun, Konradsen, Kadir (Doucoure 63′), Grosicki (Emerson 79′), Toivonen, Ntep (Moreira 85′)

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Ntep 16′, Konradsen 63′,Toivonen 90′

Cards:

Nantes: Deaux – Yellow 13′

Stade Rennais: Makoun – Yellow 39

Man of the Match: Ntep

Match Report: Sucker Punch from Languedoc

Saturday 15 February 2014 – Week 25: Stade Rennais 2 Montpellier 2

A night with many positives for Rennes was soured with a last minute goal from Montpellier as a pulsating, end to end game finished 2-2.

With Romain Danze returning from injury and Kamil Grosicki starting in place of Paul-Georges Ntep, Rennes were out of the traps immediately. It only took 10 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Foued Kadir found Grosicki free on the right and the Pole swung in an inviting cross which Ola Toivonen got to first to guide an excellent flicked, volleyed finish across Geoffrey Jourdren and into the far corner of the net.

This set the tone for a half which Rennes dominated with chances, if not possession. Romain Alessandrini fired in a trademark free kick which Jourdren did well to save. Rennes came even closer to a second late in the half as Alessandrini found himself free on the left, his first time cross found Kadir who curled a lopping, left footed effort over Jourdren but with not quite enough dip, the shot rebounded back off the cross bar. The follow up from Grosicki was blocked and Montepellier cleared their lines.

The second half started in an equally explosive manner as in the space of a couple of minutes, Rennes had two glorious chances to double their lead. Firstly, Kadir fired in a cross-cum-shot which deflected beyond a helpless Jourdren with only the post saving Montpellier. Following a scramble in the box, Alessandrini found space on the edge of the box but his shot was beaten away by Jourdren.

That proved a turning point as Montpellier started to grow in confidence and it didn’t take long for the equaliser to come. A deep free kick from substitute Siaka Tiene found Daniel Congre , who had lost marker Tiemoue Bakayoko, free to plant a header firmly passed Benoit Costil.

Following the equaliser, Philippe Montanier saw good reason to withdraw Grosicki and introduce Ntep. The youngster was keen to make an impact with a number of adventurous runs down the wing but perhaps just needs to work an his end product.

After a scrappy 10 minutes, Rennes restored their lead. The influential Alessandrini threaded a ball through for Toivonen and the Swede again demonstrated his cool finishing abilities with a first time rolled effort that caught out the onrushing Jourdren. As the minutes passed it seemed that Rennes would hold on for a priceless 3 points.

Sadly it wasn’t meant to be and after Costil had made a great save from a Joris Marveaux header, albeit he was flagged offside, the inevitable goal came. Remy Cabella, who had a fairly quiet game by his high standards, delivered a perfect cross for substitute Souleymane Camara to rise and head in. Arguably Costil may have done better but the ball bounced just in front of him, causing the misjudgment. Rennes almost went down the other end to snatch a winner but a Bakayoko free kick just evaded three players at the far post, including substitute Nelson Oliveria.

Deep into injury time and Costil certainly made amends with a superb save from a Cabella effort. As the ball fell to the Montpellier number 10, his shot through a crowd of players almost caught Costil out but he flung himself to his right and with an outstretched arm got fingertips to it to turn it around the post. With that the referee called a halt to the proceedings as the teams shared the points.  After hitting the woodwork twice, Rennes will be the more disappointed not to have taken all three points. Up next is the Derby de la Bretagne next Saturday away to Nantes in what promises to be an excellent match and probably an even more fiery atmosphere. Can’t wait!

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Hountondji, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun, Bakayoko, Kadir (Doucoure 76′), Grosicki (Ntep 56′), Alessandrini, Toivonen (Oliveira 83′)

Montpellier: Jourdren, Congre, Hilton, El Kaoutari, (Tiene 52′), Deplagne, Marveaux, Mounier (Camara 73′), Cabella, Sanson, Stambouli, Montano (Niang 69′)

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Toivonen 11′, 66′

Montpellier: Congre 54′, Souleymane 90′

Cards:

Stade Rennais: Kadir – Yellow 20′, Danze – Yellow 60′

Montpellier: Hilton – Yellow 74′

Man of the Match: Toivonen