Formidable in both surfaces, the Blood and Gold are now equal points with Marseille (60 pts), hung Friday by Montpellier (1-1), but with a better goal difference.
For Rennes, the podium is still a little away and the 5th and last European place is now hanging by a thread, under the threat of Lille who are only one point behind and await Lorient on Sunday.
Winners of PSG before the break, the Red and Blacks will be keen to relaunch in a week in Lyon, for the 100th match of Bruno Genesio on their bench.
Lens, on the other hand, will have a chance to confirm their runner-up spot on Friday against Strasbourg, but will have to face the other three teams in the current Top 5 (Paris, Monaco and Marseille) over the next six rounds.
With the same starting 11 as in the 2-0 victory at the Parc des Princes, Rennes tried to put intensity of entry, but they quickly suffered the law of Lensois intractable in defense and devilishly effective at the relaunch.
Mandanda delays the deadline
Steve Mandanda, imperial in Paris, managed to delay the deadline by diving into the feet of Openda (5th), interposing as a boss on a header from Facundo Medina (9th) or a free kick from Angelo Fulgini (27th).
Rennes striker Arnaud Kalimuendo (l) battles with Lens defender Przemyslaw Frankowski on April 1, 2023 in Rennes © LOIC VENANCE / AFP
But on a hyper fast ball recovery orchestrated by Seko Fofana and a center of Florian Sotoca, Openda opened the score of the head (0-1, 31st). After his hat-trick at Clermont and his double against Angers, the Belgian striker quickly forgot his two months of scarcity this winter.
Vexed, Rennes finally managed to engage in the Lensoise's surface, where Benjamin Bourigeaud unleashed the first strike of the match for the Red and Black, deflected by Medina on the crossbar (32nd).
The Blood and Gold could have added to the score quickly, on a header from Openda just above the window (41st) or on a lightning counter-attack where Fofana, at the conclusion, did not find the frame either (53rd).
Faced with the impotence of his men, Bruno Gensio put away his hinge to three shortly before the hour of play to densify the midfield, then launched Jeremy Doku, once again back from injury, for the last 20 minutes.
Pushed by a full stadium, Rennes have clearly regained colors, multiplying attempts in front of the goal of Brice Samba. But the Lensois were content to let the storm pass: since their return to L1 in 2020, they have still not lost against Rennes (two draws and four wins).
© 2023 AFP