Venezuelans Abroad in France – Recap of Last Weekend

France

Again, apologies for the delay with this update. You are most likely more than aware of what went on in Ligue 1 but for those who are either not or who perhaps are but fancy some more detail and highlights, please read on:

Sunday 31 August 2014

Ligue 1 

FC Metz 2-1 Lyon

Late drama watched by over 20,000 spectators at the Stade Saint-Symphorien as FC Metz came from behind to score two goals in the last ten minutes to secure their first victory upon returning to the top-flight and add to Lyon’s growing woes. Les Gones did actually have the better of the chances in the first half, the best one coming after a poor defensive clearance was seized upon and passed in the area to last season’s top-scorer Alexandre Lacazette who slipped slightly but managed to get a deflected shot away that Carrasso palmed onto the crossbar.

Into the second half where the bulk of the drama occurred, after 64 minutes Juan Falcón came off the bench to replace former Le Mans and Sochaux striker Modibo Maïga. As the latter has just arrived on loan from West Ham and possesses a proven history of goalscoring prowess in Ligue 1, the Venezuelan may have felt a sense of foreboding about the remainder of the season after being removed from the line-up for the first time this season; however, as events transpired later on this day, he certainly has reasons to feel optimistic. Before he could shine, though, Lyon took the lead in the 68th minute when Lacazette picked up the ball on the right just outside the area, passing to Jordan Ferri towards the left inside the area whose shot was saved by Carrasso but he received the rebound and somehow managed to find, through three defenders, Lacazette, who tapped home at the back post. Unfortunately for Ferri, 14 minutes later, he helped provide a goal at the other end as he tripped Bouna Sarr for a penalty, which was well-converted by Yeni N’Gbakoto, who really opened up his body to curl the ball into the top right-hand corner. That was actually Metz’s third penalty in consecutive league games, two of which have been successfully put away by N’Gbakoto who presumably resumed spot-kick duties following Kevin Lejeune’s miss against Montpellier last week. Metz’s rousing winner came in the 86th minute after some sustained pressure that put Lyon’s defence on the ropes as Lejeune received the ball in the area on the right and played a chipped ball that took a nick off a defender on its way to Falcón who gratefully nodded home past the despairing Anthony Lopes. Falcón could well have notched his second for his new club shortly after had Lejeune, in an identical position, released the ball sooner to the Venezuelan in the centre but instead he was caught in two minds over whether to pass or shoot and when he eventually opted for the former, a defender managed to get in front of Falcón to clear.

Nevertheless, Metz’s fans were overjoyed to hear the final whistle that confirmed their side’s climb away from the relegation zone up to 14th and in front of the giants of Lyon, who capped off a miserable week in which they were knocked out of the Europa League to now find themselves in 17th, having lost three of their opening four fixtures. 

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ligue 1 

Nantes 1-0 Montpellier

Nantes got back to winning ways with Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and his defensive colleagues keeping up a rather miserly record as Fernando Aristeguieta again found himself forced to watch on – this time not featuring at all – as not one, but two forwards put in performances that will surely have been observed favourably by Armenian manager Michel Der Zacharian. Indeed, both the Israeli Etey Shechter and Yacine Bammou had chances in the first half, the former attempting to lob the goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren and the latter receiving a ball on the right edge of the area from Shechter to then powerfully cut inside past a defender and hit a hard left-footed shot that Jourdren parried out. However, in what was a rather even first half, Montpellier certainly had their chances too and could well have scored after Vizcarrondo’s pass upfield was intercepted and then brought up the left by Anthony Mounier who put in a low ball across the goalmouth that, had former Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios anticipated better, could well have been tapped into the gaping net instead of going out the other side. 

In the second half, the Shechter-Bammou front-line still looked propitious for Nantes, with the Israeli notably turning to hit a shot from an acute angle that was saved for a corner but he was to be substituted in the 71st minute for the previous week’s nearly-man, Serge Gakpé, who had a penalty saved against Monaco – eventual 1-0 winners courtesy of Radamel Falcao’s last meaningful contribution to Ligue 1. This week however, the Togolese international was to be the hero when, seven minutes after his arrival, Bammou picked up a ball on the right edge of the area and evaded a challenge to strike a low ball into the area that Gakpé teed up with his first touch, turning to then emphatically volley in for the win. After these performances of Bammou, Shechter and Gakpé, it would certainly be a surprise to see Aristeguieta in the starting line-up for Nantes’s away trip to Lille on 14 September.  

Bonus

Friday 5 September 2014

Friendly

Nantes 0-1 Stade Brestois

A friendly match against Ligue 2 opposition was scheduled and duly lost following a 49th-minute winner. Fernando Aristeguieta started this match, though as this occurred during the international break and in a line-up that only featured three of the starters last Sunday, it certainly does not represent any kind of recall for the Venezuelan. 

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