Toure de force continues Monaco revival
Ibrahima Toure's rich vein of form for former French giants Monaco continued on Wednesday as his double inspired the 2004 Champions League finalists to a 4-2 home win over Ligue 1 opponents Valenciennes and a place in the Last 16 of the League Cup.
Ibrahima - who scored a hat-trick for Monaco in last Friday's 4-0 demolition of another former French champion fallen on tough times Lens - scored their first and fourth goals to round off a highly satisfactory evening for the Ligue 2 leaders.
Wednesday's first game had seen Claude Puel-coached Nice beat 10-man Brest 4-2 away with Argentinian striker Dario Cvitanich scoring a brace which were his first goals for the club and inflicted Brest's first home defeat of the campaign.
"These type of games are never easy," said Puel.
"We made a good start and then tried too hard to run the show.
"However, I saw enough positive things there to encourage me for what is to come," added the 51-year-old, who as a rookie coach guided Monaco to the 2000 league title.
There was a minor shock as Ligue 2 outfit Arles-Avignon eliminated Ligue 1 side Ajaccio 2-1, though, the Corsican team barely looked motivated for the assignment and surrendered limply.
On Tuesday a double by Turkish international striker Mevlut Erding inspired Rennes to a 3-2 win over fellow Ligue 1 strugglers Nancy.
The 25-year-old former PSG star scored a goal in each half to ease the pressure on Rennes' combative coach Frederic Antonetti whose side have won just one of their six Ligue 1 games this season.
Antonetti, who has had a colourful coaching career which has also taken him to Japan and a brief tenure with Gamba Osaka, said his decision to blood some young players and recall others such as France international Yann M'Vila had paid off.
"This is a win which is a good thing for us in such a period as we are going through," said the 51-year-old, best known for two spells with Bastia in the 1990's.
"We have to be more alert, and for longer spells, in a match.
"But overall the victory is deserved even if we looked jittery towards the end because we still had the Toulouse match (they conceded an injury-time equaliser on Saturday with the Toulouse goalkeeper scoring) still in our heads.
"I feel we are still not sure of ourselves. At times we are capable of putting together good moves, but we are still not confident enough in our play before setting up such moves."
The French clubs involved in European competition (Montpellier, PSG, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille, who are also the holders) enter the competition at the Last 16 stage.
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