Tue, Oct 25, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Lille fight back to steal a march on title rivals Lyon


LOSC Lille Metropole’s Moussa Sow, center rear, scores past Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in their Ligue 1 match in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Joe Cole capped a LOSC Lille Metropole fightback with the third goal in a 3-1 defeat of Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday that allowed the defending champions to steal a march on their rivals in the nascent Ligue 1 title race.

Lyon led 1-0 through Jimmy Briand, but Moussa Sow equalized on the stroke of halftime, before second-half goals from Marko Basa and Cole secured Lille’s third consecutive league success.

It was Lyon’s third defeat of the season, in 11 games, and it lifted Lille to third in the table, four points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain and two points ahead of fifth-placed Lyon.

Victory also helped take the sting out of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at home to Italy’s Inter, which seriously compromised Lille’s hopes of prolonging their Champions League campaign beyond Christmas.

“Our fans were a real 12th man tonight,” Lille coach Rudi Garcia said.

Lyon’s intention to play on the break was immediately apparent and in the 22nd minute they took the lead via a wonderful assist from Yoann Gourcuff, who was making his first league start of the season after ankle surgery.

With his back to goal, the France playmaker curled a sumptuous first-time pass between centerback and fullback into the path of Briand, who tucked the ball between Mickael Landreau’s legs.

Bafetimbi Gomis spurned an excellent chance to hammer home Lyon’s advantage, side-footing wide from 12m after being picked out by Michel Bastos and his miss was punished in first-half stoppage-time by Sow.

The Senegal striker had just miscued a header from right in front of goal, but he made amends with a cunning equalizer, backheeling into the net from close range after Hugo Lloris could not field Basa’s header.

Garcia introduced Cole on the hour and four minutes later the hosts went ahead, Basa climbing to meet Dimitri Payet’s deep free-kick with a towering header that flicked off Bakary Kone on its way in.

Cole, on loan from Liverpool, completed the comeback with seven minutes remaining, sliding in to convert Sow’s low cross and then running to the crowd to drape himself in the Union Flag.

Prompted by a Canal+ reporter, the England international did his best to conduct his post-match interview in French, saying: “Bon match pour ... my team — mon equipe — et ... I’m very happy.”

Earlier, a pair of goals in each half from Brazilian forward Nene allowed Paris Saint-Germain to beat promoted Dijon FCO 2-0 and thereby re-establish their three-point lead at the top.

In Sunday’s other game, a neatly taken 74th-minute goal by midfielder Julien Feret earned Stade Rennais a 1-0 success at AJ Auxerre.

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