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Reims’ Toure fires Afcon 2021 warning with goal against Bouanga’s St. Etienne

11:23 GMT+4 12/12/2021
El Bilal Toure
The 20-year-old opened his 2021-22 account as the Red and Whites saw off the Greens who had their Gabon star sent off

El Bilal Toure scored his first Ligue 1 goal of the 2021-22 campaign as Reims silenced St. Etienne 2-0 on Saturday night.

The 20-year-old who is expected to make Mali’s squad for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations squad ended his 13-game goal drought as the Red and Whites bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Angers their last time out.

Having lost their three league matches – conceding nine goals in the process – St. Etienne travelled to Stade Auguste-Delaune aiming to end their abysmal run.

Nevertheless, that was not the case as they continued their worrisome form in the French elite division.

The Red and Whites started the fixture on a good note as they were awarded a penalty kick as Hugo Ekitike was fouled by Etienne Green in the penalty area.

Toure stepped up to take the ensuing kick and he smartly beat goalkeeper Green in goal.

That strike woke the visitors from their slumber but they failed in their quest to level matters. Things got worse for them on the stroke of half time as Denis Bouanga was given the marching orders for an off-ball incident against Ilan Kebba.

Benefitting from their numerical advantage, Oscar Garcia’s Reims dominated every department of the game – nonetheless, that did not translate into goals.

Toure almost completed his brace in the 52nd minute but his spinning backheel flick from Ghislain Konan’s cross sailed over the cross bar. Minutes later, the 20-year-old went close again. This time, he headed agonisingly went wide.

A minute before full time, super-sub Nathanael Mbuku doubled the home team’s advantage as he converted a perfect pass from Ekitike.

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri and Algeria's Ryad Boudebouz were in action from start to finish for the Greens, however, their displays could not save the day.

Also, Ivorian forward Jean-Philippe Krasso was introduced for Miguel Trauco in the 88th minute, while Cameroon’s Yvan Neyou Noupa came in for Zaydou Youssouf seven minutes before the hour mark.

On the other side, Toure – who was named man-of-the-match was replaced by Anastasios Donis in the 64th minute. Whereas, Mali's Moussa Doumbia and Senegal’s Moustapha Mbow were unused substitutes.

Even at their triumph, Reims remain in the 14th position as St. Etienne languish at the base of the log with just 12 points from 18 matches.