Another goal from Wahbi Khazri propelled Rennes to a 2-0 win away to Olympique Lyonnais as the former Bordeaux attacker continues to shine in the French top-flight.
The Tunisian made the most of a defensive blunder by Marcelo to beat Anthony Lopes from close range to put the visitors ahead on six minutes.
Playing as the main central attacking midfielder, Khazri turned in a stellar performance, achieving an impressive 70% passing accuracy before being replaced by Morgan Amalfitano just before full-time.
The 27-year-old has scored seven goals in 15 league appearances for Rennes this season, cementing himself as a key player for Les Rouges et Noirs.
Elsewhere in France, Dijon overcame high-fliers Nice on Papy Djilobodji’s return to the side following a three-match suspension.
In the three games played since the Senegalese defender’s ban started, Dijon were thumped 8-0 away at PSG, lost 3-2 at Strasbourg and then managed a 2-1 home victory over Wahbi Khazri’s Rennes.
The French side’s fortunes immediately improved following Djilobodji’s return to the team with a 3-2 home win over Mario Ballotelli’s Nice this past weekend - the defender will be looking to move on having received some fair criticism in the French media following the horrendous, unnecessary two footed lunge from behind against Metz earlier in the month.
In Serie A, Fabio Borini came off the bench to score AC Milan’s final goal in a 4-0 victory away to SPAL, with the Italian firing home powerfully to secure the victory.
Since Gennaro Gattuso arrived to take over the head coach job, Borini has struggled for playing time but before his arrival he had featured heavily.
Much like at Sunderland, Fabio has been unable to nail down a position in the team and has played at right wing back, right midfield, as a number ten and in a lone role up front.
Jeremain Lens’ Besitkas are on a fine run of form, with the Turkish side finding themselves unbeaten in their last five league and cup games – winning four.
However, Lens continues to struggle for a regular starting berth and since arriving in the summer has been largely restricted to a limited role, often coming on late in games from the bench. The 30-year-old winger replaced fellow Dutchman Ryan Babel on 76th minute mark in his side’s 5-0 drubbing of Kardemir Karabükspor at the weekend.
Andrew Nelson replaced Louis Longridge in Falkirk’s 3-1 victory away to Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup and has featured six times in the league since departing Wearside in search of first-team football in January.
The striker managed to net his first Falkirk goal against Inverness Caledonian Thistle late last month.
The 20-year-old’s loan at the Falkirk Stadium runs until the completion of the Scottish Championship season, and still has one more year left on his Sunderland contract having signed a new deal before he departed the club last month.
Republic of Ireland U19 goalkeeper James Talbot hasn’t appeared for Conference North Side Darlington since mid-January.
Talbot picked up a needless ban in his last outing against Alferton Town after being sent off for his involvement in an altercation with Alferton’s Tom Allan.
Fellow U23 Daniel Wright saw his loan at South Shields cut short due to an ankle injury having made four appearances for the Mariners since joining on loan in January.
Joint Shields manager Lee Picton said:
It was just a freak accident where the ball bent his ankle back, and he damaged his ankle ligaments. He has been one of the bright sparks for us over the last couple of weeks, and we were looking to hopefully extend his loan period.
We’re going to have to put a check on that one now and Dan will have to recover at Sunderland before there’s a possibility of us bringing him back here. We don’t even know if he’s going to be fit again for the rest of the season, so that’s another blow for us.
Elsewhere, Crisis-club Hartlepool United have been on a terrible run of form, failing to win in any of their last five league games. Defender Michael Ledger hasn’t appeared for the Monkey Hangers since a 4-2 loss away to Dagenham & Redbridge on the 6th of January due to niggling muscular problems, and was set to play at the weekend against Barrow - but the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Speaking of Ledger’s injury issues, Pools manager Craig Harrison said:
Ledge has had a catalogue of back and hamstring injuries and it’s been tough for him.