UEFA Champions League, Matchday 1, 20/09/23
After a difficult start to the Ligue 1 season, RC Lens found solace in the Champions League, taking a deserved draw against Sevilla (1-1).
Lens looked to have carried their Ligue 1 form into the Champions League in the early stages. Sevilla dominated possession, and Franck Haise’s side couldn’t gain a foothold in the game. Sevilla deservedly took the lead with the first chance of the match, Lucas Ocampos’ near-post header looping over the poorly-positioned Brice Samba.
However, following the goal, Lens grew into the game, with Florian Sotoca pulling the strings. Angelo Fulgini then drew Lens level with a well-struck free-kick with which Marko Dmitrović should have done better. Ocampos almost restored Sevilla’s lead, but from point-blank range, Samba redeemed himself.
Elye Wahi, who has yet to find rhythm with his new side, squandered a couple of half chances as Lens continued to grow into the game, even taking the upper hand at the start of the second half. Samba was then forced into action by Dodi Lukebakio. Chances came thick and fast for both sides. Morgan Guilavogui had a golden chance to give Lens the lead, but he was denied by Dmitrović. At the other end, Sergio Ramos should have at least got his header on target having risen highest from a corner.
Having missed his chance, Ramos then set up Lukebakio a golden chance, which he blasted wide with a first-time half-volley. Whilst both sides had chances to take the three points, it ended all square, a draw arguably a fair result.
Lens player ratings
Brice Samba – 5 – culpable for Sevilla’s opener, but certainly made up for it, denying Ocampos a brace. It showed great mental strength to turn things around on his Champions League debut in a hostile away atmosphere.
Facundo Medina – 5
Kevin Danso – 6 – composed and solid. More like the player we saw last season, and less like the player we have more often seen in the current Ligue 1 campaign.
Jonathan Gradit – 5
Deiver Machado – 6
Nampalys Mendy – 5
Salis Abdul Samed – 5
Przemyslaw Frankowski – 5
Angelo Fulgini – 7 – scorer of Lens’ goal, leader in the press, and creator-in-chief. He was involved in everything that was good about Lens tonight.
Florian Sotoca – 7 – the guiding figure of Lens’ revival. He was instrumental in allowing Lens to build attacks and knitted things together in the final third. Alongside Fulgini, he also set the tone in the press, making him a key figure in almost all phases of play. Highly impressive for a Champions League debut.
Elye Wahi – 4 – showed a few bright touches and made some intelligent runs that were frequently picked out by his teammates. However, he is lacking his clinical touch, and despite finding himself in some dangerous positions, failed to force Dmitrović into action.
GFFN | Luke Entwistle