Thu, Dec 05, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Lille consolidate second place in French league

HEATING UP:The pressure on league leaders Paris Saint-Germain is mounting after Lille defeated Marseille to pull within striking distance, only one point adrift of top spot


Nantes’ Venezuelian-Spanish forward Fernando Aristeguieta, second left, shoots at goal during their Ligue 1 match Nantes against Valenciennes on Tuesday at the Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes, western France.

Photo: AFP

LOSC Lille Metropole beat Olympique de Marseille 1-0 on Tuesday with a late goal from Nolan Roux to consolidate second place in the French league and put pressure on leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

Roux scored his sixth goal this season by heading a cross from Florent Balmont into the bottom corner in the first minute of stoppage-time, while Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama kept an 11th straight clean sheet in the league. Lille pulled within a point of PSG and is nine points clear of Marseille.

“I’m sorry for those who will say: again a 1-0 victory,” Lille coach Rene Girard said. “Football is about defending and attacking. We did attack since we scored a goal. We’re efficient. We don’t dominate by creating 20 chances per game, but we step up when it matters.”

AS Monaco earned a third straight victory by defeating OGC Nice 3-0 to stay in third place, one point behind Lille, while Nantes edged Valenciennes 2-1 to move provisionally into fifth place.

Florian Thauvin was booed by the crowd at Stade Pierre Mauroy every time he touched the ball. The Marseille forward went on strike this summer to obtain a transfer from his former club, Lille.

Lille tested Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with long-range strikes from Ronny Rodelin in the fifth minute and Balmont in the 14th.

Hopwever, Andre-Pierre Gignac was the most threatening player in the first half, forcing Enyeama to punch away his cross-shot in the 17th. The Marseille striker then rolled away from Lille defender Simon Kjaer to be clean through on goal in the 24th, but Enyeama denied him.

The Lille goalkeeper frustrated the visitors in the second half, stopping a close-range effort from Gignac in the 54th, a drive from Thauvin and a volley from Gignac in the 63rd.

Marseille lost France playmaker Mathieu Valbuena and Dimitri Payet to injuries in the 72nd minute and the 78th, respectively. Payet picked up a left-calf strain, whereas Valbuena suffered a left-shoulder injury that will sideline him for at least four weeks.

“We should have scored and taken the lead,” Marseille coach Elie Baup said. “Conceding that goal in stoppage-time really hurts. It’s unfair given the game we had.”

Monaco played without Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who is recovering from a thigh injury. However, it hardly mattered as Monaco converted their first two scoring chances.

Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez put Monaco ahead with a curling shot from a tight angle in the fifth minute, before striker Emmanuel Riviere outjumped the Nice defense in the 23rd to meet a cross from Anthony Martial and send a looping header inside the far post for his seventh goal this season.

Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic protected his team’s lead by stopping a low volley from Nice winger Valentin Eysseric in the seventh minute and tipping around the post a low drive from Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich in the 26th.

Riviere then wasted two good chances. The Monaco striker sent a chip over the bar in the 38th minute and lost his balance with the goal at his mercy, after beating Nice goalkeeper Luca Veronese in the 56th.

However, Monaco substitute Lucas Ocampos put the result beyond doubt by stealing the ball from Nice defender Mathieu Bodmer and dribbling past Veronese to slot into an empty net in the 89th.

“We had the match under control,” Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. “I asked my players to play aggressively, but also to keep calm.”

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