PLAYER RATINGS | Nantes 1-0 Angers: Les Canaris retain Ligue 1 status

It was now or never for FC Nantes. Les Canaris needed a win against bottom boys Angers, coupled with a Lens win or draw at relegation rivals Auxerre, to guarantee their survival in Ligue 1. However, the Loire-Atlantique side were winless in the league since February 12, an awful run of results that brought them on the brink of relegation. In front of a shallow Loire End, Nantes had 90+ minutes to right those wrongs.

The hosts got on the front foot early on, launching themselves into tackles with the energy of despair. After good work from Samuel Moutoussamy down the left, Ludovic Blas laid it on a plate for Marcus Coco, who missed a golden opportunity to go 1-0 up with a half-volley. For what looked like the first time in months, Nantes were playing as a team again, but individual brilliance as still on show. Blas made a mockery of Angers’ defence with dribbles aplenty before finding Ignatius Ganago who lashed home emphatically.

Nantes kept mouting pressure on Yahia Fofana’s goal, but their final touch let them down. The hosts had a late scare in the first half when Abdallah Sima found the back of Alban Lafont’s net, but he was called offside. Testament to Nantes’ newly-found togetherness, and to Angers’ poor quality, the visitors had no shot on target in the first 45 minutes.

When news spread around La Beaujoire that 16th-placed Auxerre were losing 2-0 at home, Clément Turpin awarded a penalty to Nantes after a contact between former Southampton man Yan Valery and Ganago. The referee was called to the VAR screen and changed his mind. Although Nantes were dominating proceedings, they still only have a fragile one-goal lead. From the hour mark, Angers enjoyed more of the ball as Nantes seemed exhausted and hesitant on what to do, with their fate on the line.

Buoyed on by a bouncing Beaujoire, Nantes eventually held on to their lead despite a truly poor second half. Auxerre’s loss meant Nantes had escaped from a Ligue 2 relegation. Les Canaris did not miss their appointment with destiny. They remain in Ligue 1.

Nantes player ratings

Alban Lafont 5

João Victor 5

Jean-Charles Castelletto 6

Andrei Girotto 5

Charles Traoré 5

Pedro Chirivella, 6 – How Nantes have missed the former Liverpool man. The Spaniard’s anticipation, awareness and his eye for a pass have proved vital. The fact he is playing through the pain is even more impressive.

Samuel Moutoussamy 7 – The captain has admirably shouldered his responsabilities and proved invaluable to Nantes’ pressing and hold-up play.

Marcus Coco 5

Ludovic Blas 7 – His ability to create goal-scoring opportunities out of thin air, like he did for Ganago’s opener, will be dearly missed by La Beaujoire. Could have produced even more if not for his somewhat erratic decision-making.

Quentin Merlin 6- The France U21 international’s switch from left-back to left-sided midfielder has proved a masterstroke. The Nantes youth product bombed forward with ease and plugged gaps all evening to exhaustion.

Ignatius Ganago 6 – He didn’t have many opportunities, but he may well have scored Nantes’ most important goal of the decade in ensuring they kept their Ligue 1 status.

Angers player ratings

Yahia Fofana 6

Yan Valery 4

Miha Blažič 4

Abdoulaye Bamba 4

Nabil Bentaleb 6

Batista Mendy 4

Halid Šabanović 4

Pierrick Capelle 5

Himad Abdelli 4

Abdallah Sima 4

Sada Thioub 3

GFFN | Bastien Cheval

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