Losing its bearings for months, Rennes retained its chances of grabbing a European place by crushing Reims 3-0 thanks to a double from Jérémy Doku and a finally solid collective performance, Saturday during the 31st day of Ligue 1.
They were threatened with falling back to an anonymous 8th place, but Bruno Genesio’s men have temporarily climbed to 5th place, the last qualifier for European competition, with 53 points and a short lead over Lille, which hosts Montpellier on Sunday. .
Reims, who had the opportunity to join the dance, remains for its part in this 8th place (47 points), victim of an unusually friable defense and a well muzzled attack.
“We’ve been patient for three months, nothingness for three months, get moving now”, warned the Rennes Ultras on a large banner during the players’ warm-up. “Mandatory victory to keep hope!”, announced another banner before kick-off.
Much too irregular since the post-World Cup resumption, doubled by Lille and caught up by Lyon, the Rennais, authors of a performance deemed “lamentable” by their president at Parc OL (3-1), were not entitled to the error in the face of their pet peeve (six defeats, two draws and only one victory since 2018).
Tense at the start of the match, they were able to quickly take advantage of the absence of the two Reims midfielders Jens Cadjuste and Azor Matusiwa, suspended, to offer themselves two golden opportunities, starting precisely from the midfield.
Established only for the fifth time this season in L1 due to a litany of injuries, Doku first seized a lost ball by Alexis Flips to spin alone to the surface and conclude with a shot at low to the ground (1-0, 9th).
Then it was Birger Meling who left alone in the middle following a one-two with Arnaud Kalimuendo. Once in the area, he shifted Doku, who had followed on the right for his first double in the Rennes jersey (2-0, 19th).
Refreshed, the Rennais inflicted a diligent pressing on the Rémois (23 shots against four over the whole match), saved by their post when Lesley Ugochukwu arrived launched to recover from a heel and try to push a ball lost in the area (32nd).
And it is still the post which intervened on a direct free kick from Benjamin Bourigeaud (67th).
Meanwhile, the Rémois tried to raise their heads but Steve Mandanda took out a boss parade against Marshall Munetsi (41st) and the insatiable Folarin Balogun, 4th top scorer in the championship with 18 goals, missed the target on the one of his rare occasions (60th).
And Rennes took off on a corner badly repelled by Yehvann Diouf: Amine Gouiri recovered the ball and set back for Théate, who lobbed the Reims goalkeeper (3-0, 68th). It was Belgian international day at Roazhon Park…