Joseph Okumu benched as Reims thrash Montpellier in Ligue 1

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STARS ABROAD Joseph Okumu benched as Reims thrash Montpellier in Ligue 1

Joel Omotto 19:30 - 27.08.2023

The Harambee Stars defender recovered in time for Sunday’s clash but was not utilised from the bench as Reims recorded a second straight French top flight victory

Joseph Okumu was an unused substitute as Stade de Reims claimed a 3-1 away win against Montpellier in a Ligue 1 clash on Sunday.

The Harambee Stars defender won the fitness race to make the matchday squad after missing last weekend’s 2-0 win over Clermont Foot due to a hamstring injury but coach Will Still opted against utilizing him as his side ran out comfortable winners.

Two goals and an assist for Teddy Teuma saw Reims upset the odds over Montpellier at Stade de la Mosson. The result temporarily moving Reims into a UEFA Champions League spot, while keeping Montpellier marooned on just one home league win since March.

After a 4-1 thumping of Lyon last weekend, Montpellier were expected to start assertively, having avoided defeat in their opening two Ligue 1 matches for the first time in 11 years.

Instead, Michel Der Zakarian’s men were stunned in the eighth minute, when Yunis Abdelhamid met an inswinging corner from Teuma head on to give Reims a shock lead.

Remarkably, it was the Moroccan’s first away goal at club level since March 2021, and after staying compact at the back, the visitors soon created a golden opportunity to register a second goal just five minutes before the break.

A foul by Issiaga Sylla on Azor Matusiwa near the edge of the box gave Teuma another excellent dead ball opportunity, and the Maltese international smashed his effort in at the near post to double Reims’ advantage.

However, another twist was forthcoming, as Musa Al-Taamari embarked on an incredible solo run deep into first-half stoppage time, cutting inside from wide and firing a powerful shot in at Yehvann Diouf’s near post. In doing so, he also became the first Jordanian to net in the French top flight.

With Montpellier having netted twice or more in seven of their previous eight league matches, Reims knew the job was far from done. But Reims were in no mood to soak up pressure, and a breakaway attack led to the ball almost dribbling out for a corner.

Jordan Ferri's attempt to prevent that backfired, and Christopher Jullien's header into no-man's land saw Teuma meet the ball perfectly from 20 yards, and launch missile into the corner to surely seal only the visitors' third win in 12 Ligue 1 matches.

Sensing blood, Reims could have buried Montpellier once and for all just after the hour mark, when Joris Chotard committed a clumsy foul on Oumar Diakité inside the box. The Guinean himself stepped up, but would fail with his maiden Ligue 1 spot-kick.

Victory left Reims in third place, albeit temporarily on six points from three games, and Okumu will be hoping to win back his place in the starting 11 when his side visit Metz next weekend.