After drawing their last five Ligue 1 games, Rennes had the opportunity to breathe some life back into their season by hosting their bitter Breton rivals – a resurgent FC Nantes side that had just defeated Lorient with an extraordinary 5-3 scoreline.
Bruno Genesio’s team set themselves up ideally. Rennes right-back Lorenz Assignon was fouled in the penalty box by midfielder Samuel Moutoussamy and Ruddy Buquet pointed to the spot after only five minutes – Rennes captain Benjamin Bourigeaud made no mistake in wrongfooting returning goalkeeper Alban Lafont.
The hosts were by far the most enterprising side with Nantes showing little to no intention of loosening Rennes’ hold of the game. Pierre Aristouy’s tactical gamble to strengthen Les Canaris‘ midfield with the inclusion of Moutoussamy looked to have backfired. Rennes’ double midfield pivot of Bourigeaud and Nemanja Matic had a field day in the first half, grossly averaging one successful pass per minute. Les Rouge et Noir thought they had a second penalty when Buquet pointed to the spot after Lafont had collided with Bertug Yildirim in the box, but the Turkish international was eventually flagged offside.
But not for the first time this season, Rennes were the makers of their own misfortune. Just before half-time, when Nantes started knocking on the door, Steve Mandanda casually fed Warmed Omari and Florent Mollet smelt blood. The ball eventually fell to former Liverpool man Pedro Chirivella who went on to beat the experienced keeper with composure. Out of nowhere, Les Canaris found a way back into the game.
Nantes grew in confidence entering the second half and Rennes felt the frustration of another lead sleeping through their fingers. The game went full derby mode with Ruddy Buquet handing bookings left and right when tempers had started flaring. Rennes got their lead back when Lafont failed to handle substitute Désiré Doué’s lashing effort twenty minutes from time. The goal was previously chalked off as it was believed the ball went out of play. Nantes then shot themselves in the foot with reliable centre-forward Mostafa Mohamed going berserk and almost getting physical with Buquet, who duly sent him off.
Momentum definitely swung in Rennes’ favour. Nantes’ shot at restoring parity passed when former Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko skied his half-volley from the penalty spot. In the dying minutes, Nantes conceded a late penalty and Arnaud Kalimuendo put the icing on the derby cake. Les Rouge et Noir capped off their second win of the campaign in a jubilant Roazhon Park. The hosts go up to sixth place whilst Nantes remain in the shallow end of the standings in 13th.
Rennes players ratings
Steve Mandanda, 5 – After a couple of saves in the first half, he needlessly put Omari at risk in the build-up leading to Chirivella’s goal. A goalkeeper as experienced as him should have seen this coming. Fortunately, the consequences were minimal.
Lorenz Assignon, 6
Warmed Omari, 6
Arthur Theate, 7
Adrien Truffert, 6
Benjamin Bourigeaud, 7 – Another industrious performance from the Rennes skipper. He faced his responsibilities in dispatching an early penalty and was wherever his teammates needed him. Came off to rapturous applause.
Nemanja Matic, 6 – The classy Serbian dropped deeper than usual, which allowed him to spot and exploit numerous gaps in Aristouy’s flawed midfield setup.
Ludovic Blas, 5
Fabian Rieder, 4
Amine Gouiri, 4
Bertug Yildirim, 4
Nantes players ratings
Alban Lafont, 4 – The France international appeared jittery and his responsibility is engaged in Rennes’ second goal. His return following a serious rib and lung injury may have been too early, especially in such a hostile environment as is the case at Roazhon Park.
Jean-Kevin Duverne, 5
Eray Cömert, 6
Jean-Charles Castelletto, 6
Quentin Merlin, 5
Pedro Chirivella, 6 – The former Liverpool man delivered an assured midfield performance, plugging holes in Nantes’ defence and bringing much-needed calm and passing quality to his teammates. Got rewarded with a rare goal.
Douglas Augusto, 5
Florent Mollet, 6
Samuel Moutoussamy, 4
Moses Simon, 5
Mostafa Mohamed, 2 – The Egyptian centre-forward had a frustrating evening and he completely lost it just in front of Buquet’s face when another decision did not go his way. The referee had no choice but to send him off. Embarrassing, and Nantes will probably miss him for a couple of games through a prolonged suspension.