Nuno Tavares is enjoying the return of domestic football, as he netted for the second successive game to help Marseille to a 2-1 win at Montpellier on Monday.
Having scored the final goal of a convincing 6-1 thrashing of Toulouse three days earlier, the left-back followed that up by bagging his fifth of the campaign in their next game, showing great composure to control a cross on his chest and smash the ball into the net to open the scoring in a 2-1 win against Montpellier.
Nuno didn’t complete the full game though, as he was shown a red card three minutes from time and will now be suspended for Marseille’s upcoming matches, who sit in third place in Ligue 1.
Elsewhere in the division, Folarin Balogun hit double figures for the campaign by netting twice in Reims’ 3-1 win over Rennes last week. The striker powered home a volley after six minutes, before sealing the points six minutes from time after a defensive mix-up.
However he had to miss their following game against Lille with a hamstring issue, with boss William Still saying he didn’t want to risk his talisman. Meanwhile, Nicolas Pepe played all of Nice’s two fixtures either side of New Year’s Eve, drawing 0-0 with Lens before losing 2-1 away at Rennes as they dropped to 11th position.
On the other side of Europe, Alex Runarsson helped Alanyaspor to a 3-1 win over Kayserispor, which saw them climb to ninth in the Turkish Super Lig.
After appearing off the bench on Boxing Day against Brighton & Hove Albion, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was handed a start by Southampton manager Nathan Jones on New Year’s Eve, but couldn’t prevent the Saints slipping to a 2-1 loss at Fulham.
In the Championship, Auston Trusty notched his first assist for Birmingham City, but it was in vain as they lost 3-1 to Middlesbrough on Monday; a third successive defeat leaving them 17th in the table.
That’s one place above Harry Clarke’s Stoke City, who conceded in the last minute to fall to a 1-0 defeat against Preston North End, with our defender playing the whole game - as he had four days earlier against Burnley when the Potters were beaten by the same scoreline.
Charlie Patino made his 21st appearance for Blackpool in their 1-1 home draw with Sunderland on Sunday, their second successive home game against promotions chasers after they were defeated 2-1 by Sheffield United three days earlier. Those results leave the Seasiders winless in nine games, and occupying the final relegation spot.
It’s a similar story for Brooke Norton-Cuffy at Rotherham United, who lost 3-0 away at Milwall to leave them languishing in 21st position, extending their run of games without a win to six. Brooke came on in the 67th minute, his second straight substitute appearance after also being introduced during a defeat to West Bromwich Albion just before the new year.
In League Two, Arthur Okonkwo put in a man of the match display to keep his ninth clean sheet of the campaign in Crewe Alexandra’s 1-0 win against Tranmere Rovers - their first win in four matches.
That leaves them in 17th spot, three places above Mazeed Ogungbo’s Crawley Town who searching for their third manager of the season after dismissing Matthew Etherington after 34 days in charge, having also sacked Kevin Betsy in October. Ogungbo played in their 3-1 defeat to Stevenage on December 30, before missing their subsequent 2-2 draw with Newport County.
Dropping into non-league, Tom Smith kept a Boxing Day clean sheet as Bromley won 1-0 at Southend, the same day that Tim Akinola played his part in Chesterfield’s back-to-back wins against Scunthorpe United, with the six points lifting them to third in the National League.
Ovie Ejeheri was between the posts for Chelmsford City’s double-header against Braintree Town, keeping the opposition out on Boxing Day to help secure a 2-0 win, which was followed by a 2-2 draw away from home on New Year’s Day. Chelmsford are now fourth in the National League South.
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