Astana and Rennes each profited from late goals on matchday one before their meeting in the Kazakhstan capital.
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Astana and Rennes meet in the capital of Kazkahstan with both teams looking to consolidate a fine start to UEFA Europa League Group K in which late goals proved beneficial, Astana equalising deep into added time to draw 2-2 at Dynamo Kyiv while Rennes scored a 91st-minute penalty to beat Jablonec 2-1 in Brittany.
• This is Astana's first match against a French club and Rennes's first against opposition from Kazakhstan.
• Astana are on a run of four successive domestic league titles and came through four qualifying ties this summer – the first three in the UEFA Champions League – to complete a hat-trick of UEFA Europa League group stage participations. After defeating Sutjeska and Midtjylland but then losing to Dinamo Zagreb, they won their UEFA Europa League play-off on penalties – their first European shoot-out – against Cypriot champions APOEL after two 1-0 home wins.
• Having become the first team from Kazakhstan to play in the UEFA Champions League proper in 2015/16, Astana have spent the last two autumns in the UEFA Europa League. Their tally of five points in 2016/17 was not enough to see them through but last season they doubled that total to reach the round of 32, where they lost 6-4 over two legs to Sporting CP.
• In each of their three European group campaigns Astana have drawn at home on matchday two. Since completing that particular hat-trick against Slavia Praha last season (1-1) they have not drawn another European game in Astana, winning four and losing three. Their overall record at home in group stage football is W2 D6 L1, the sole defeat having come in their last such encounter, 2-3 against Villarreal.
• Rennes earned their first ever qualifying exemption for a major UEFA club competition by finishing fifth in the 2017/18 Ligue 1.
• They have competed in the UEFA Europa League group stage once before, in 2011/12, after coming through two qualifying rounds. Defeated in all three away fixtures, against Udinese (1-2), Celtic (1-3) and eventual winners Atlético Madrid (1-3), they drew all three at home. That was the club's most recent European campaign.
• Rennes also participated twice in the UEFA Cup group stage, in 2005/06 and 2007/08, but were winless in those too, losing all four away games. Their last European away win outside the summer months was 3-1 at Lokomotiv Sofia in the first round of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.
Links and trivia
• Astana's Ivan Maevski was in the Belarus side that drew 0-0 at home to eventual champions France in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
• In Astana's penalty shoot-out win against APOEL in this season's play-off no fewer than six of the nine spot kicks failed to find the target, the Kazakh champions winning 2-1.
• Rennes's first goal in the 2-1 win against Jablonec on matchday one was a spectacular long-distance strike from 20-year-old winger Ismaïla Sarr, who starred for Senegal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup but was making his debut in UEFA club competition.
• A free-scoring Ukrainian striker, Roman Hryhorchuk has made his name as a coach in eastern Europe, starting out in Latvia, where he won three league titles and two domestic cups during a four-year spell with Ventspils. He went on to coach Chornomorets Odesa in his homeland and Azerbaijan side Gabala for similar periods, overseeing UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns for both, before replacing Stanimir Stoilov at Kazakh champions Astana in June 2018.
• Sabri Lamouchi is a former French international midfielder who represented his country at EURO '96 after wining the domestic double that season with Auxerre. He also scooped the French title with Monaco in 1999/2000 before moving to Italy. His first managerial posting was as head coach to the Ivory Coast national side, whom he led at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. After two and a half years in charge of Qatari side El Jaish, he became Rennes boss in November 2017, replacing Christian Gourcuff.