Rennes loses to Angers as fans try to beat curfew

Reuters

WATCH every Ligue 1 match LIVE, only on beIN SPORTS | 2-WEEK free trial

A spike in COVID-19 cases in the region brought the introduction of a curfew from midnight on Friday local time. 

That gave fans barely an hour to get home after the match or risk a €135 ($215) fine.

Rennes could have moved to the top of Ligue 1 with a victory, instead, it suffered its first defeat of the season as, for the fourth time in four games, it blew a lead. This time it did not even gain a draw. 

The home team started well. After 18 minutes, Paul Bernadoni, Angers record signing, failed to hold a tame volley from Flavien Tait. 

Adrien Hunou pounced on the loose ball to slide it in from close range.

Angers quickly hit back. In the 27th minute, former Southampton player Sofiane Boufal's shot from the edge of the box took a small deflection off Steven Nzonzi and a bigger one off Damien Da Silva before flying past Alfred Gomis.

In the 57th minute, Angelo Fulgini chasing a long punt forward wriggled past Da Siva and stretched out a toe to lob the ball over Gomis to give Angers the lead after 57 minutes.

Almost at once, Gomis atoned with a spectacular save from a point-blank Boufal header.

The victory lifted Angers into the top six.

Rennes manager Julien Stephan made five changes to the starting line-up from the club's UEFA Champions League debut against Krasnodar on Wednesday (AEDT) when it squandered a lead and drew 1-1 at home. 

In that European match, the Rennes ultras, many without masks, had grouped behind the goal and celebrated together when their team took the lead. 

On Saturday (AEDT), UEFA announced it had opened a disciplinary investigation against Rennes for violating its health protocol and failing to "maintain social distancing". 

For the game against Angers, the club again allowed 5,000 spectators to attend, insisting it would enforce stricter distancing rules and enforce a four-seat gap between them. 

"We asked them to distribute these 5,000 spectators in the four stands", the prefect of Brittany, Michele Kirry, said.

As they watched their team lose to Angers, the fans were carefully spaced around the stadium, which might have also made it easier for them to rush for the exits at the final whistle as the match ended little more than an hour before the curfew started.

"The curfew order only comes into force at midnight tonight," Kirry said. 

"It's very complicated to cancel things on the day they are scheduled."