Lille waste chance to further European cause with draw


Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - Page 18

LOSC Lille Metropole let slip a chance to cement their claims on Champions League soccer next season when held to a goalless draw at home by Nantes in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The northern French side, who were assured of remaining in third place irrespective of the result, are now on 53 points, six adrift of AS Monaco, who were to play away to Olympique Lyonnais yesterday.

Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain were also to play yesterday, Laurent Blanc’s team set to host fourth-placed AS Saint-Etienne to the Parc des Princes.

Lyon and Saint-Etienne are Lille’s main rivals for Champions League qualification.

Rene Girard’s Lille were devoid of any real attacking menace and were booed by their home supporters.

“I’m disappointed,” Girard said. “We were very average. We were beaten in the one-on-ones, we lacked rhythm, it was a non-match.”

Later on Saturday, Sochaux-Montbeliard beat Lorient 2-0 in a result that confirmed their recent good form, which has seen them harvest 10 points from their past five games.

The win left them five points above the relegation zone.

Elsewhere, third-from-bottom Evian Thonon Gaillard lost 1-0 at home to Valenciennes, OGC Nice beat SC Bastia 2-0, En Avant de Guingamp defeated bottom side AC Ajaccio 2-1 and Toulouse edged Stade Rennais 3-2.

Friday’s lone fixture saw Olympique de Marseille held 1-1 at Stade de Reims in a result that did neither side’s European qualification aspirations any good.

Antoine Devaux gave the hosts the lead midway through the second period when he headed home a cross from full-back Franck Signorino.

Yet the 1993 European champions earned a deserved equalizer 10 minutes from time when France forward Andre-Pierre Gignac tapped home at the back post after Reims goalkeeper Kossi Agassa missed a cross from Rod Fanni.

“It’s no doubt the lack of clinical finishing that cost us victory,” Marseille coach Jose Anigo said.

Yesterday, PSG, having sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in midweek, were hoping to get the better of bogey team Saint-Etienne.

Blanc’s side are unbeaten in 12 league games and came into the weekend eight points clear of nearest challengers, Monaco, at the top of the table.

Les Verts, European Cup runners-up in 1976, have a good recent record against PSG, although they did squander a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in October last year and lost in extra time in Paris in the League Cup two months later.