Defending champion Lille beats Lorient, Strasbourg goes 4th
LILLE, France (AP) — Defending champion Lille extended its unbeaten run to nine matches with a 3-1 win against Lorient in their rescheduled French league match on Wednesday.
On the day Lille signed former France international Hatem Ben Arfa, the win lifted the northern side to eighth place and within seven points of second-place Nice. Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain has an 11-point cushion over Nice at the top of the standings.
In-form Strasbourg moved to fourth place with a fifth win in six matches. The Alsace club won 2-0 at Clermont after Kevin Gameiro broke the deadlock just before halftime from Jean-Eudes Aholou’s pass and Cedric Hountondji scored an own-goal.
After a stuttering start to the season, Lille seems to have found the right pace, with four wins from its last six games. Lorient, meanwhile, remained in 18th place in the relegation zone, with just three wins from 21 matches.
Lille got off to a strong start and killed any sense of suspense in the space of 30 minutes. Isaac Lihadji scored to put the hosts in the driving seat before Moritz Jenz beat his own goalkeeper and Reinildo made it 3-0 as he flicked Renato Sanches’ free kick into the net. Lorient played better after the interval and was rewarded with a consolation goal in added time.
Lille leapfrogged Montpellier in the table after the southern club was reduced to 10 men and slumped to a 1-0 home loss against Troyes.
Also Wednesday, Montpellier playmaker Teji Savanier was sent off near the hour mark for a reckless tackle on Oualid El Hajjam that earned him a straight red card. Midfielder Xavier Chavalerin scored the winner in the 74th minute with a fine left-footed volley that ended a four-game winless run for Troyes.