F91 Dudelange's dream of ending the season with an incredible 100 per cent record is over after they lost 1-0 at promoted FC Avenir Beggen, although with eight games to go in Luxemburg the runaway leaders still enjoy a 16-point cushion.
The title-holders had won all 16 Division Nationale matches before the 24 February reverse in Beggen, and boasted an overall streak of 23 league wins stretching back to last season. They had also prevailed in four Luxembourg Cup ties during that time. "Every run comes to an end," said the club's French coach Michel Leflochmoan. "My team should never have lost that game given their superiority on the pitch, but I can only congratulate my players on their proud run."
The surprise slip rekindled memories of another shock result, when Dudelange and Beggen faced off in the 2002 Luxembourg Cup final. Despite being strong favourites, Dudelange conceded in the last minute to be denied a league and cup double. The signs are, however, that this latest setback will prove less traumatic. Indeed, Leflochmoan's men bounced back on Sunday with a 5-1 victory at FC Progrès Niedercorn.
Back in the groove
"I don't consider the 5-1 scoreline a reaction to our first loss of the season," the coach said. "My team took really good advantage of their opportunities and never let their opponents settle. We want to wrap up the championship as soon as possible." Blessed with a strong squad, Leflochmoan has his side playing attractive attacking football: Dudelange will be worthy champions when they finally cross the finish line.
Battle for second
The excitement elsewhere in Luxembourg's top flight centres around who will take the runners-up spot – and the lucrative UEFA Cup berth that comes with it. FC Racing Union Luxembourg look well-placed after building a six-point lead thanks to their 3-0 home victory over direct rivals AS Jeunesse Esch. "Our forwards made the difference against Esch," explained Racing coach Alvaro Cruz, who singled out Sergio Pupovac for praise. The Frenchman scored one goal and created another to put his team in the driving seat for second. They cannot relax, though, as third-placed FC Etzella Ettelbrück and fourth-placed Beggen refuse to give up the fight, with Jeunesse now down in fifth position.
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