Tue, Apr 03, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Lille down Toulouse to close on leaders Montpellier Herault

AFP, PARIS

Champions LOSC Lille Metropole closed to within four points of top spot in Ligue 1 by winning 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Sunday and saw their grip on third place further strengthened by Olympique Lyonnais’ 1-1 draw at Stade Rennais.

Eden Hazard broke the deadlock for Lille with a 12th--minute penalty and teed up Dimitri Payet for Lille’s second goal, before Serge Aurier pulled one back for Toulouse with half an hour to play.

Victory took Rudi Garcia’s side four points behind leaders Montpellier Herault — who have a game in hand — and -second-placed Paris Saint-Germain, while Lille are six points above both Lyon and Toulouse in the scrap for the final Champions League place.

Lille had a strong early penalty appeal rejected after visiting captain Daniel Congre tripped Payet, but when Congre went through the back of Hazard a few minutes later, referee Philippe Kalt pointed to the spot.

Hazard stroked the penalty into the bottom-right corner to claim his 14th league goal of the season, putting him second only to Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud (18 goals) in the scoring charts.

The 21-year-old was enjoying himself in the Lille sunshine and he set up the hosts’ second goal in the 31st minute, side-stepping onrushing goalkeeper Ali Ahamada and crossing for Payet to score from close range.

Aurier pulled a goal back for Toulouse when he converted Adrien Regattin’s low cross from the right, but the visitors could not find an equalizer and they had Pantxi Sirieix sent off in the 82nd minute for an ugly foul on Nolan Roux.

Lyon finished the weekend in fourth place — above Toulouse on goal-difference — despite seeing their four-game winning streak come to a halt at Rennes in Sunday’s late game.

Mevlut Erding broke the deadlock for the hosts in the fifth minute, while Jonathan Pitroipa hit the post moments later and Alexander Tettey missed an open goal early in the second half after Hugo Lloris saved from Erding.

Lyon were incensed when Jimmy Briand was denied a penalty following an apparent foul by Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil, but Lisandro Lopez equalized in the 76th minute, tapping home after his effort came back off the post.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Stade Malherbe Caen squandered a chance to leave the relegation zone as they drew 0-0 at home to AC Ajaccio.

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