Dominant display by Joseph Okumu as Stade Reims overcome FC Lorient to storm to Champions League places

STARS ABROAD Dominant display by Joseph Okumu as Stade Reims overcome FC Lorient to storm to Champions League places

Mark Kinyanjui 11:42 - 29.10.2023

The Harambee Stars defender looked the part, producing a man-of-the-match worthy display and help Reims storm into the Ligue 1 Champions League places with a victory.

Joseph Okumu looked commanding yet again in the middle of a back three as Stade de Reims beat FC Lorient 1-0 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune to move provisionally to fourth in the Ligue 1 standings.

Defensively, he looked solid, completing five clearances and making five tackles and interceptions. He also won both his attempted areal duels, and won two of his three attempted ground duels.

He looked the part in possession as usual, making 81 successful passes from 91 attempts, as well as 11 accurate long balls, with one of them even registering an expected assist ratio of 0.05.

Reims began the day six places and four points better off than their visitors, knowing that victory would lift them into the UEFA Champions League spots - for 24 hours at least.

They started the brighter of the two teams, with Junya Ito smashing a volley over the bar after good build-up play from Marshall Munetsi and Teddy Teuma in the 15th minute.

In the 29th minute, Ito tried to turn provider for Mohammed Daramy midway through the half, but after a smart one-two Yvon Mvogo was able to pounce on the ball at Daramy's feet .

Romain Faivre tried to get things going at the other end but there was nobody there to meet the Bournemouth loanee’s low cross in the 35th minute.

Isaak Touré nicked the ball from Ito towards the end of the half when the Japanese was in a dangerous position in the 43rd minute, and it remained goalless at the break.

In the 54th minute, Eli Junior Kroupi had the first half-chance of the second half for Lorient, firing over after being found by Faivre .

 Darlin Yongwa then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Daramy before Will Still made a pair of changes past the hour, sending Amine Salama and the Manchester City-owned Wilson-Esbrand on for Marshall Munetsi and Thibault De Smet.

With fresh legs, Reims nearly took the lead soon after, but Teuma's shot was well saved by Mvogo.

Salam then slipped in Ito, who's chipped attempt sailed over in the 72nd minute. Reims coach Will  Still was sent to the stands for dissent in the 80th minute, with brother Nicolas overseeing the run-in, but Wilson-Esbrand gave both reason to cheer late on with a fine curling finish in the 84th minute  that secured a 1-0 win.

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