LIGUE 1

Alexander Djiku helps Strasbourg stay in contention for Champions League qualification

The Blue-and-Whites kept their hopes of qualifying for Europe's prestigious competition alive with a brilliant win over their rivals.

Alexander Djiku (IMAGO / PanoramiC)

Ghana's star Alexander Djiku played his part as Strasbourg secured an important win against Rennes in the battle for the French Ligue 1's Champions League final spot.

Strasbourg have been the surprise package of the season in the French top-flight, with Julien Stephan's men punching above their weights. The Blue-and-Whites are currently fighting for an unlikely Champions League spot. Still, they went into the game against Rennes knowing they needed a win to preserve their hopes.

Going into the game, Rennes sat in third with a three-point advantage ahead of Strasbourg. Strasbourg got off to the best possible start when Habib Diallo finished off a ball from Jean-Ricner Bellegarde in the fourth minute.

It was the perfect goal that settled the nerves of the home side. After conceding early, Rennes tried to find the equaliser, but Strasbourg were well-organised in defence, with Dijku playing a role.

The 27-year-old made two interceptions, one clearance and won eight duels to ensure Strasbourg went into the break with their one-goal lead. The second half was a different story, though, as Rennes came out in search of the leveller.

And they did restore parity in the 54th-minute, courtesy of the usual suspect Martin Terrier, who fired in his 20th goal of the season following a ball from Hamari Traore.

Terrier's goal, however, brought the home side back to life again. Knowing they had to win, Stephan's men went on the attack but were denied on a couple of occasions by Dogan Alemdar in Rennes' goal.

It looked like both sides would share the spoils until Ludovic Ajorque finished off Kevin Gameiro's assist 13 minutes from time to send the home fans into raptures.

Ajorque's strike turned out to be the winner as Strasbourg held on for an important victory. The win maintains their fourth position on the table, but they are now level with their opponents in third place, with Monaco sitting in fifth with the same number of points.

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