Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux go third as Cheick Diabate provides the relief

After sparking a racism controversy this week, Sagnol was hugged by striker Diabate after the latter scored in Bordeaux's 2-1 win over Lens on Saturday.
Cheick Diabate, right, celebrates with teammate Thomas Toure after scoring against Lens in Bordeaux's 2-1 Ligue 1 victory on Saturday. Francois Lo Presti / AFP / November 8, 2014
Cheick Diabate, right, celebrates with teammate Thomas Toure after scoring against Lens in Bordeaux's 2-1 Ligue 1 victory on Saturday. Francois Lo Presti / AFP / November 8, 2014

In a week he faced claims of racism, Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol was moved to tears in Ligue 1 on Saturday when African striker Cheick Diabate hugged him after sealing a 2-1 win at Lens.

The victory lifts Bordeaux to third position, level on 24 points with second-placed Paris Saint-Germain but trailing on goal difference, while PSG host Ligue 1 leaders Marseille on Sunday.

Sagnol had been forced to apologise this week after appearing to suggest African players may be lacking in “discipline” and “intelligence” in a newspaper interview.

The former French international was also mercilessly whistled by home fans as he walked onto the Lens pitch.

So when 26-year-old Malian striker Diabate scored Bordeaux’s second goal just before half-time and ran over to hug Sagnol, the gesture left the coach wiping tears from his eyes.

Wahbi Khazri opened Bordeaux’s account with a powerful shot on 24 minutes before Diabate rounded the keeper to double the tally on 41 minutes.

A Yoann Touzghar penalty gave Lens hope and brought the score back to 2-1 with 15 minutes to play, setting up a nervy closing spell.

Diabate refused point blank to be drawn of the subject.

“I didn’t see that (the crying). I’m just focussed on winning the game and getting the points,” he told French television at half-time.

Bordeaux keeper Cedric Carrasso said the coach had always had the support of the dressing room.

“The team believes in the coach and the team believes in the man. But he is only human and he can cry if he wants, too,” he said.

Lens coach Antoine Kombouare, a Kanak, or native New Caledonian, shook Sagnol’s hand before the game as fans at the Stade Felix-Bollaert subjected the Bordeaux coach to a barrage of jeers.

“We spoke on the phone and he heard me out and now the debate is closed. He must be suffering so we should all move on now,” said Kombouare, who described himself as hurt and humiliated by what Sagnol had said earlier in the week.

Sagnol himself also refused to go back over the racism debate or comment on the tears, only saying that the win had done him good after a hard week.

He preferred instead to look ahead to the next match, a trip to Ligue 1 leaders Marseille.

“The players can now go away and concentrate on their international games and come back ready to turn in a performance at Marseille, where we will go to win,” he said.

Rennes, meanwhile, are comfortably settled in the top third of the table after edging lowly Lorient 1-0 in the Brittany derby on Friday evening.

Five days after sacking coach Claude Makelele, Corsican club Bastia were in winning form at home when two first-half goals from 21-year-old striker Gadjo Tallo gave them a 2-0 success over Montpellier as the hunt for a new manager goes on.

Nantes extended their unbeaten run to eight games but had to come from behind to beat Caen 2-1 away and climb to fifth.

Pantxi Sirieix, Wissam Ben Yedder and Aleksandar Pesic were on the mark as Toulouse took three points with a 3-0 win at home to Metz.

Evian climbed off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win over Nice thanks to a late goal from Danish midfielder Daniel Wass.

The focus will be on Parc des Princes on Sunday where PSG host arch-rivals Marseille, who are currently four points clear at the top of the table.

On form Lyon will target a home victory over lowly Guingamp also on Sunday as they too jostle for a position near the top of the table. Saint-Etienne face AS Monaco, who were beaten 1-0 by Benfica in the Champions League in midweek.

Lille will be looking to shake off a hangover from their 3-0 Europa League defeat at Everton when they face a potentially less complicated trip to Reims.

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Published: November 9, 2014 04:00 AM


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