Lens overcame its personnel problems to win 2-0 at Toulouse and move off the foot of the Ligue 1 table on Friday as Alharbi El-Jadeyaoui and Benjamin Bourigeaud scored their first top-flight goals.
Antoine Kombouare was without several of his regular players, with a trio of suspensions exacerbating his injury woes, so Baptiste Guillaume, Abdoul Ba and goalkeeper Valentin Belon were handed their first starts for the club. Alharbi El Jadeyaoui opened the scoring for Kombouare’s side in the 12th minute and Benjamin Bourigeaud doubled the advantage shortly before the half-hour mark to earn the club’s third league win of the season.
The victory moved Lens out of the bottom three and into 14th place ahead of the rest of this weekend’s fixtures, with Evian dropping down to join Guingamp and Caen in the basement. Lens went close to scoring in the third minute when El Jadeyaoui raced down the right and sent in a cross which was poorly cleared by Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro, The ball fell at the feet of Pierrick Valdivia whose volley crept just inches wide.
However, Lens did not have to wait long to break the deadlock, with El Jadeyaoui the man on target after Deme N’Diaye’s counter-attack unlocked Toulouse’s defence. N’Diaye sent in a cross to the six yard box which found El Jadeyaoui, who volleyed in a low strike from close range.
Toulouse had a chance at the other end three minutes later when Aleksandar Pesic’s heavy shot was denied by Lens goalkeeper Valentin Belon and they went close in the 20th minute when Oscar Trejo’s shot was deflected wide by Loick Landre. Despite their best efforts, Toulouse could not break through, and their misery was compounded in the 27th minute when Bourigeaud swooped on a mistake by Trejo to race upfield and beat Zacharie Boucher.
After the break Toulouse had a hat-trick of headed chances from Dragos Grigore, Abel Aguilar and Pesic, but Belon dealt with them all ably, with only Aguilar’s causing a brief panic before it inched over the bar. Martin Braithwaite had a close range shot denied by Lens keeper Belon in the 77th minute after it took a deflection in what was the last real chance of the match, meaning Lens held on for a vital win to halt their seven game winless run.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.