Rennes thrashes Lorient to take back third place in Ligue 1

Rennes' Benjamin Bourigeaud center right, celebrates his goal during the Europa Conference League, round of 16, second leg soccer match between Rennes and Leicester City at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, western France, Thursday, March 17, 2022. (Jeremias Gonzalez/AP)

PARIS (AP) — Rennes kept pace in the race for Champions League spots by beating Lorient 5-0 to take back third place in the French league on Sunday.

Benjamin Bourigeaud opened the scoring in the 17th minute by firing a half-volley into the roof of the net.

Martin Terrier doubled the lead with a cool finish two minutes later to notch his 21st league goal, one behind top scorer Kylian Mbappe.

Rennes captain Hamari Traore made it 3-0 by heading home a cross from Bourigeaud in the 47th.

One of the most underrated players in the league, Bourigeaud is having a career season with nine goals and 12 assists.

The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 58th when Nayef Aguerd was sent off for fouling Lorient forward Armand Lauriente, who was bearing down on goal.

Flavien Tait increased the lead with a swerving long-range strike in the 79th before Gaetan Laborde capitalized on a counterattack to seal the victory in stoppage time.

“We made some mistakes in the previous games,” Tait told Amazon Prime Video. “Here, we rediscovered our defensive solidity, we fought for each other.”

Rennes is level on points with Monaco and trails second-place Marseille by three points.

The top two French clubs enter the group stage of the Champions League while the third-place team goes to the third qualifying round of the lucrative European competition.

Lorient remained three points above the relegation zone.

Also Sunday, substitute Khephren Thuram scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to help fifth-place Nice edge lowly Troyes 1-0 and stay two points behind Rennes.

Strasbourg lost ground in the race for European spots by losing 1-0 at Lille to slip to sixth place, one point behind Nice. Lille right back Zeki Celik netted with an off-balance volley in the 87th.

Nantes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat relegation-threatened Bordeaux 5-3. Nigeria forward Moses Simon gave Nantes a 4-3 lead in the 76th before Osman Bukari put the result beyond doubt with a downward header in the 89th.

Bottom side Metz saw its winless streak stretch to 13 games by losing 1-0 to midtable Brest. Algeria winger Youcef Belaili scored the only goal by converting a cross in the 27th. Metz finished the game with only nine men as goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja and defender Jemerson were sent off in the second half.

Clermont moved two points above the relegation zone by salvaging a 2-2 draw with Angers. Mohamed Bayo in the 71st and Luca Da Cunha in the 82nd scored for Clermont to erase a 2-0 deficit.

The 34th round ends later Sunday with Reims vs. Marseille.

Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain clinched a record-tying 10th league title by drawing with Lens 1-1 on Saturday.

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