Lille, Lyon win to keep pressure on PSG
Yusuf Yazici scored what proved to be the winner as Lille beat fellow title hopefuls Monaco 2-1 on Sunday to retake second place in Ligue 1, while Lyon cruised past Metz as the pair increased the pressure on leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Christophe Galtier’s men dug deep at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy to end Monaco’s four-match winning streak and move back to within two points of reigning champions PSG.
Lyon are behind Monaco on goal difference after brushing aside Metz 3-1.
Marseille are two points further back in third, but have two games in hand.
“This result is important because we were facing a direct competitor and we hadn’t won much recently,” said Lille coach Galtier.
“When I see what Paris did on Saturday, by beating Montpellier despite rotating eight players, I tell myself that it remains PSG (as title favourites).
“To be very honest, I look at what is happening behind us… There is a terrible fight with Monaco, Marseille, Lyon or Montpellier.”
Lille, who were held to a draw by struggling Saint-Etienne last weekend, had the best chance of the opening half but Jonathan Bamba’s strike was well saved by away goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Lille broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Jonathan Ikone avoided two challenges on the edge of the area before slipping a pass through for Canadian striker Jonathan David to score.
The hosts doubled their advantage midway through the second half as Turkish internationals Burak Yilmaz and Yazici combined, with the latter slotting in from close range.
Yazici, who was introduced as a substitute three minutes before his goal, has scored four times in the league this season despite only starting twice.
Pietro Pellegri pulled one back for Monaco in the 90th minute, but there was not enough time for an equaliser.
The principality club sit fifth, five points behind PSG, who saw off Montpellier 3-1 on Saturday.
“It would have deserved to end in a draw, so I am inevitably disappointed,” said Monaco boss Niko Kovac.
Lyon punish Metz
Rudi Garcia’s Lyon extended their unbeaten run to 10 Ligue 1 matches as they made the most of an early penalty miss by Metz midfielder Farid Boulaya.
Hosts Metz wasted a golden opportunity to take a seventh-minute lead when Algerian Boulaya’s spot-kick was comfortably saved by Anthony Lopes.
Lyon took the lead 10 minutes later as Memphis Depay fired into the corner from Karl Toko Ekambi’s pullback.
Cameroonian international Ekambi drilled in his sixth goal in as many matches less than two minutes after the break, before adding a penalty on the hour mark.
A four-goal victory would have taken Lyon above Lille, but those hopes were dashed when Boulaya netted a consolation with 14 minutes to play for Metz, who had John Boye sent off late on.
Lyon also had Rayan Cherki dismissed in injury time in a scrappy end to the game.
But they will head to PSG next weekend full of confidence and bidding to go top of the table.
“We are consolidating our place in the top three and that will allow us to go to Paris with ambition,” said coach Garcia.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Saint-Etienne’s winless league run extended to nine matches with a goalless draw at Dijon.
Strasbourg moved out of the relegation zone with a thumping 4-0 success over Nantes, while Hatem Ben Arfa scored a late winner as Bordeaux edged Brest 1-0.
Nice laboured to a 0-0 stalemate at Reims in their first match since sacking Patrick Vieira as coach.