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Reims beat Strasbourg after honouring hero Kopa

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(Reuters) – Stade de Reims boosted their push for a European place with a deserved 2-1 win over Strasbourg on Saturday, a fitting way to mark a special occasion for the club as they also paid homage to their former great Raymond Kopa.

On another weekend of depleted fixtures in France’s Ligue 1, the match was the only one of four on Saturday to survive as police requests for matches to be postponed due to social protests took their toll on the programme for a second week.

At Reims, it was a day of celebratory remembrance as, before the match, the club unveiled a statue of Kopa, the great attacking midfielder who played for them in the inaugural European Cup final in 1956 which they lost to Real Madrid.

Kopa, who enjoyed two prolific spells at Reims, also won the trophy three times with Madrid, the last time in 1959 when they beat his old club in the final again.

The French footballing hero, the first from his country to win the Ballon d’Or, died last year at the age of 85.

After the ceremony, the striking laurels went to Moussa Doumbia and Mathieu Cafaro, who got the goals that lifted Reims from 11th place into eighth, equal on points with Nice and one behind Olympique de Marseille and Saint-Etienne.

Doumbia put the home side ahead after seven minutes but although Adrien Thomasson pulled one back four minutes into the second half, Cafaro restored their lead just 17 minutes later with a superb free-kick.

Both teams are chasing a European spot, with Reims hoping to return to continental competition for the first time since 1963.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Chadband)

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