Lille maintains Champions League push as rival Lyon loses
PARIS (AP) — Lille stepped up its bid for second place in the French league and automatic qualification for the Champions League by winning 2-0 at Guingamp before Lyon lost 1-0 at Nice on Sunday.
The win puts Lille six points ahead of third-placed Lyon, while Nice climbed up to seventh spot.
Teen striker Rafael Leao put Lille ahead just after halftime against last-placed Guingamp. After Guingamp striker Marcus Thurm had a goal disallowed for offside following a video review, former France forward Loic Remy won and converted an injury-time penalty for Lille.
The northern France side remains 10 points behind runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain, having played two games more than PSG.
It is some turnaround from last season when Lille narrowly avoided relegation.
Lyon handed PSG its first league defeat of the campaign with a brilliant performance last weekend, but failed to get past a stubborn Nice side coached by former France and Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.
Midfielder Remi Walter’s penalty midway through the second half decided a closely fought match.
Lyon is six points ahead of fourth-placed Montpellier, which has played one game less. Finishing third ensures a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Monaco missed the opportunity to move clear of the French league’s relegation zone after conceding an injury-time penalty in a 2-2 draw at Montpellier.
Striker Andy Delort’s effort was poorly struck, with the ball squirming under the goalkeeper’s body and just over the line.
A win would have moved Monaco up to 16th place, but the draw means it is 18th and in the promotion-relegation playoff spot.
Portuguese forward Gelson Martins scored his first goal since joining Monaco, sliding in at the back post to turn in a cross from the left after 14 minutes.
Striker Gaetan Laborde equalized midway through the second half, before Radamel Falcao struck in the 84th after Martins had a shot saved.
It was Falcao’s ninth league goal of a difficult season that has seen coach Leonardo Jardim fired in October to make way for Thierry Henry, and then re-hired after Henry was fired last month .
Montpellier is fourth on goal difference ahead of Saint-Etienne, which lost 3-0 at Rennes. Striker M’Baye Niang, winger Hatem Ben Arfa and midfielder Adrien Hunou got the goals for eighth-placed Rennes.
Elsewhere, Nantes went 2-0 up before losing 4-2 at home to midtable Nimes.
Strikers Kalifa Coulibaly and Majeed Waris scored in the first half, but after the break Baptiste Guillaume, Antonin Bobichon, Jordan Ferri and Sada Thioub all scored for Nimes.
On a day of mourning for Emiliano Sala , Nantes players walked onto the field dressed in black with Sala’s name on their backs as the crowd chanted his name.
A minute’s applause was observed at all stadiums in the top two divisions in France this weekend, in memory of the Argentine striker who was killed in a plane crash at the age of 28.
Also, Toulouse drew 1-1 at home to Reims.
Striker Edinson Cavani sustained a hip injury as PSG beat Bordeaux 1-0 at home on Saturday, ruling him out of Tuesday’s match at Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League.