Auxerre coach Jean-Marc Furlan has put his name in the history book of French football.
For the fifth time, he has now led a team from Ligue 1 back to the French top flight. This time around, it is with AJ Auxerre.
Furlan has now been referred to as a promotion specialist, having led ESTAC to Ligue on three occasions while once with Brest.
Now that Auxerre has become his fifth success, he is the only one with the record. He has now done it twice more than any other coach.
It is also another record-setting for a Ligue 2 side to defeat a Ligue 1 side in a playoff. The last time it happened was when Troyes beat Lorient 2-1 on aggregate in the playoff.
Thus, the newly-promoted side returned to the Ligue one after a decade of absence after defeating France’s co-most successful club, Saint-Etienne, 5-4 on penalties in the second leg of their promotion playoff. The game had end3ed one goal apiece into extra time after both the first and second legs had finished were played.
The first leg in Auxerre ended goalless on Thursday night. This left the tie wide open. Auxerre showed determination by going ahead through Hamza Sakhi in the 51st minute in the second leg in Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
But Wahbi Khazri restored parity for the relegated side, leading to extra time and penalties.
Sainté never had an opportunity of a comeback after Auxerre hero Donovan Léon saved the very first penalty of the shootout from Ryan Boudebouz. All Auxerre players scored their spot-kicks.
To make matters worse, substitute Rémy Dugimont blasted home Sainté’s fifth to hand Auxerre their Ligue 1 ticket since the 2010-11 season.
Speaking after the game, Léon noted that he was with the club when they were relegated in 2012. According to him, Returning to his boyhood club (in 2020) and helping them secure a return to the top flight is a real pleasure.
While noting some of the difficulties he had been through, the goalie who made no fewer than eight saves in the game said he was brought back.
He, therefore, appreciated those who trusted and believed in him, adding that no one gave Auxerre any chance of promotion during the playoffs.
Now that they are back in the top flight, Auxerre is expected to reinforce its squad in order not to be enmeshed in a relegation battle.
Written by: Oladipupo Mojeed