Wissam Ben Yedder fired Monaco out of the Ligue 1 mire on Sunday with a stoppage time winner that earned an entertaining 3-2 win over Rennes.
Yedder pounced on Keita Balde’s flick two minutes into added time to lash home a powerful left-foot finish and send Leonardo Jardim’s side up to 14th just as it looked as if a handball spotted by VAR had denied them the three points.
Balde thought he had won the game for Monaco seconds before when he capitalised on a dreadful error by Rennes goalkeeper Romain Salin to roll the ball into an empty net, but the video assistants to spot him controlling the ball with his hand.
Monaco started the weekend in 16th but dropped into the relegation playoff places before Sunday’s match. It seemed they would stay there once Balde’s goal was rightly ruled out.
The late goal means they are now level on 12 points with Toulouse, Amiens and 12th-placed Rennes, who have not won a match since August.
Monaco had taken the lead through Ben Yedder’s smart finish after just two minutes. A wonderful solo run and finish from Faitout Maouassa and Adrien Honou’s tap-in put Rennes ahead just after the break.
Monaco levelled after the away side gifted the ball to Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard rolled in Islam Slimani to score in the 57th minute.
Earlier, Claude Puel continued his perfect start as Saint-Etienne coach. Denis Bouanga’s stoppage time penalty at Bordeaux launched Puel’s side into the top half of the table.
The 10-time French champions were second-bottom in Ligue 1 after their home loss to Metz late last month but have won three straight, the last two under Puel. Their turnaround in form, which includes victory over local rivals Lyon in Puel’s first match, has moved them to ninth, ahead of 10th-placed Marseille’s clash with Strasbourg.
Bordeaux meanwhile missed the chance to move into the Champions League positions with their second home loss the bounce.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is confident his team can bounce back from their Europa League setback in Rennes when they face a euphoric Manchester United side this weekend.
The Gunners played most of Thursday’s game with 10 men after Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off late in the first half as they threw away an early lead to lose 3-1 in France in their Europa League last 16, first leg.
Alex Iwobi had put them in front, but Rennes took advantage of their extra man to come back and claim a potentially vital two-goal cushion.
The result means they should have their work cut out if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, with the second leg against the Ligue 1 club scheduled for next Thursday.
“The first 40 minutes I think we controlled it, we scored, and we didn’t concede many chances to them,” said Emery, who accepted his team did not play well after the sending-off.
Benjamin Bourigeaud and Ismaila Sarr scored for Rennes either side of a Nacho Monreal own goal.
“We need to change our performance and I have confidence that we can with our players and with our supporters helping us to give us a big atmosphere.”
Before that game, Arsenal entertain United on Sunday in a huge game between two sides battling for a top-four place in the Premier League.
“We are finding fresh players and different energy for each match, and for Sunday I think it’s going to be the same,” said Emery, whose side are fifth in the Premier League table, one point behind United in fourth.
“Every player worked a lot and we are going to look forward to the next match, but I know and I am positive for Sunday, that with fresh players with energy, with quality, that we have the possibility to put in a big performance against Manchester United and win against them.”
United will head into the game fresh from their stunning 3-1 win away to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday that took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals.
That result was achieved with a depleted side, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team will also take confidence from the fact they won 3-1 at Arsenal in the FA Cup in January.
“They are in a very good moment but we are together in the table and we played against them one month ago in the FA Cup — we lost 3-1 but I remember we did very good things, we had chances,” said Emery.
“We know Sunday is a tough match, an amazing match for everybody, we will be at home with our supporters, and we need a very big performance from each player.”
Arsenal will be able to call on Alexandre Lacazette for that game — the French striker is suspended for the two legs against Rennes.
Arsenal face a major battle if they are to reach the Europa League quarter-finals after a 3-1 defeat away to Rennes in France on Thursday, despite Alex Iwobi putting the Gunners ahead early on.
Iwobi’s goal gave the Premier League side the perfect start in this last 16, first leg at a raucous Roazhon Park, but the match hinged on the sending-off of Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos four minutes before half-time.
Benjamin Bourigeaud equalised for the French club moments later, and their second-half pressure paid off as a Nacho Monreal own goal put Rennes ahead before Ismaila Sarr’s late header gave them a two-goal cushion in the tie.
Unai Emery’s side must now turn the tie around in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next Thursday if they are to progress any further in a competition which represents their only hope of silverware this season as well as offering a potential route into next season’s Champions League.
The Gunners recovered from a first-leg deficit to beat BATE Borisov in the last round, but Rennes are a step up in quality and are revelling in what is already their best ever European run. This result is also a shot in the arm for French clubs after Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League humiliation against Manchester United on Wednesday.
Rennes had eliminated Real Betis in the last round and there was a superb atmosphere in a stadium packed to its capacity of almost 30,000.
Arsenal were missing French striker Alexandre Lacazette, who is suspended for both legs of this tie after being sent off against BATE in Belarus.
They still got off to a perfect start, taking the lead inside four minutes when Iwobi’s cross-cum-shot from the left edge of the box curled low into the far corner.
Rennes slowly grew into the game, though, with Hatem Ben Arfa — who was sidelined last season by Emery when both were at Paris Saint-Germain — increasingly influential.
Petr Cech, who spent two years at Rennes before joining Chelsea in 2004, saved well from a Ben Arfa free-kick in the 34th minute.
As half-time approached, Ben Arfa played in Sarr, who was hauled back by Sokratis just outside the area. The Greek defender had already been booked, so a second caution equalled a red card.
Bourigeaud struck the wall from the resulting free-kick, but the ball came back to him and he sent a stunning half-volley arrowing into the far corner.
Rennes had been unbeaten in all 12 previous home games since the appointment of Julien Stephan as coach in December, and they made the most of their man advantage in the second half.
Cech made several interventions before being beaten again in the 65th minute, as Mehdi Zeffane’s cross from the right deflected off Monreal and looped into the net.
Their potentially crucial third goal arrived with two minutes left as James Lea-Siliki whipped in a cross from the left and Senegal star Sarr — a menace on the right flank all evening — arrived to head in at the far post.
Rennes have effectively sacked their coach Sabri Lamouchi after he was suspended in the wake of poor recent form, the French Ligue 1 club announced on Monday.
In a statement, Rennes said Lamouchi had been “suspended” and reserve team coach Julian Stephan been put in temporary charge of the first team.
Lamouchi is unlikely to return, meaning Sunday’s chastening 4-1 home defeat against Strasbourg will be the last of his year-long spell in charge in Brittany.
Rennes are currently 14th in Ligue 1, four points clear of the relegation zone before Wednesday’s trip to Lyon.
The 47-year-old former French international midfielder — who has previously coached the Ivory Coast national team and in Qatar — took over in November last year and led Rennes to European qualification via a fifth-place finish in Ligue 1.
A win at home to Astana of Kazakhstan next week will see Rennes advance to the knockout phase of the Europa League. It would be the first time in their history they are still involved in European competition in the second half of a season.
But Rennes have won just two of their last 11 league games and Lamouchi has failed to integrate successfully Hatem Ben Arfa, the club’s highest-profile signing at the start of the campaign.
The Technical and Development Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation on Monday named Frenchman Paul Le Guen, as the new Technical Adviser of the Senior National Team, Super Eagles.
He will be assisted by Nigerian Salisu Yusuf, who takes the role of Chief Coach.
The appointments are subject to agreement of contract terms with the NFF Executive Committee.
Spokesman of the Committee, Paul Bassey, told thenff.com after the meeting at the NFF secretariat on Monday that Enugu Rangers gaffer Imama Amapakabo and former Super Eagles’ goalkeeper and skipper Alloy Agu, who served as assistant coach and goalkeeper trainer for the games against Mali and Luxembourg in May, retain their places in the technical crew.
The new crew’s immediate challenge is a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania in the first week of September – a dead rubber, but which would serve as ample preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match away to Zambia on October 3.
The 52-year-old new Eagles’ boss steered the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.
He played for Brest, Nantes and Paris Saint Germain and won 17 caps for France, before coaching Rennes, Lyon, PSG (in France) and Glasgow Rangers (in Scotland). He also coached Oman.
Yusuf, capped at U20 level by Nigeria, called the shots in interim capacity for two international friendly matches in Europe at the end of May, which the Eagles won.
The Committee has also recommended to the NFF Board, the appointment of one–time Super Eagles’ assistant coach Bitrus Bewarang as the new NFF Technical Director. Bewarang, who is president of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association, will replace the late Coach Shaibu Amodu.
There is also a recommendation that former Super Eagles’ defender Nduka Ugbade be restored to the U17 National Team as assistant to Coach Manu Garba.