10-man Lens dreaming of Champions League after beating Reims
LENS, France (AP) — Lens captain Seko Fofana fired his team another step closer to Champions League qualification after coming from behind to top Reims 2-1 in the French league on Friday.
And Lens did it with a player less, too.
The home team’s hopes were dealt an early blow when Kevin Danso was sent off after conceding a penalty in the 19th minute for a shove on Folarin Balogun’s back. The Austrian defender had played every minute for Lens in the league.
There was a lengthy VAR check before Balogun scored from the penalty spot in the 23rd.
But Przemyslaw Frankowski equalized in the 39th with another penalty awarded for a similar offense by Reims defender Yunis Abdelhamid, who was booked.
Fofana showed fine control to move past two defenders and score in the 55th.
Referee Jeremie Pignard awarded the visitors another penalty midway through the second half when Balogun fell under Brice Samba’s challenge, but changed his mind after consulting video replays and booked the Reims forward for diving.
Lens withstood the visitors’ late attacks and the home players celebrated the win as if they’d already reached Europe’s premier competition. Second place guarantees a Champions League place and Lens moved five points clear of third-placed Marseille, which hosts Angers on Sunday.
League leader Paris Saint-Germain was three points clear of Lens before its game at home to Ajaccio on Saturday.
Three rounds remain after this weekend.
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The Associated Press