Marcelo Bielsa made a perfect start to life on the LOSC bench with a comprehensive 3-0 home win over Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes.
LOSC already look like a real Bielsa team and they pressed Nantes relentlessly throughout. The high-energy style should have brought the northern club rewards even before a three-goal second-half flurry ensured Ranieri’s first game at Nantes ended in defeat.
Bielsa, back in the French game two years after resigning as Olympique de Marseille boss, named five new signings in his starting eleven and they were all over Nantes from the off, Anwar El-Ghazi showing up well in the opening exchanges.
That said, Nantes should have gone in front on 20 minutes. El-Ghazi and then Luiz Araujo were culpable of taking too many risks in their own half. Abodulaye Touré volleyed goalwards and Mike Maignan tipped the effort onto the bar. Following up, Préjuce Nakoulma inexplicably contrived to shave the post with a header with the goal at his mercy.
Nicolas de Préville, a hat-trick scorer the last time he played Nantes, spurned LOSC’s best chance of the half as he headed wide from Kévin Malcuit’s inviting delivery.
Bielsa’s men made the breakthrough three minutes into the second half when substitute Romingue Kouamé’s teasing ball from the left was cleared by Nantes skipper Léo Dubois only as fas as Junior Alonso and the Paraguayan international found the back of the net with a sweet left-footed strike for his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal.
Nantes riposted with a move of real quality and, after exchanging passes with Emiliano Sala, Valentin Rongier was only denied an equaliser by a superb Maignan save. The former PSG shot-stopper was called into action again soon after to tip over an Alexander Kacaniklic free-kick.
Malcuit was indefatigable on the right side on his debut after joining from Saint-Etienne and he earned a 67th-minute penalty, felled by Nantes debutant Nicolas Pallois. De Préville, who had scored from the spot to complete his triple against Nantes in the final game of last season, sent Maxime Dupé the wrong way from the spot.
LOSC added a third three minutes later when Kouamé produced another glorious ball from the left and El-Ghazi swept it in with his weaker right foot, before revealing a touching tribute t-shirt to former Ajax team-mate Abdelhak Nouri, the victim of permanent brain damage this summer.
THE PLAYER: Thiago Mendes
The Brazilian midfielder Thiago Mendes, signed for nine million euros from Sao Paulo on a five-year deal this summer, was outstanding on his Ligue 1 Conforama debut. The 25-year-old didn’t waste a pass all match long and looks a proper Marcelo Bielsa player, strong physically and always looking to play a positive ball.
THE STAT: 2
This meant back-to-back losses for Nantes for the first time in Ligue 1 Conforma this calendar year. They fell 3-0 at LOSC in Week 38 of the 2016-2017 season as Nicolas De Préville plundered a hat-trick in what turned out to be Sergio Conceiçao’s last game in charge of Les Canaris