French football

Lille botch chance to keep four point lead at top of Ligue 1

Lille skipper Jose Fonte (right) scored his side's equaliser against Strasbourg in the closing stages of their Ligue 1 match.
Lille skipper Jose Fonte (right) scored his side's equaliser against Strasbourg in the closing stages of their Ligue 1 match. REUTERS - PASCAL ROSSIGNOL

Lille fluffed their chance to restore their four point lead at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday following a 1-1 draw at home with relegation-threatened Strasbourg.


The visitors, lying 16th in table and only five points above the drop zone, went into the clash at the Stade Pierre Mauroy on the back of a 2-1 win at Metz and a 0-0 draw at Angers last weekend.

They belied their lowly status in the Ligue 1 food chain with doughty defending and occasional moments of incision.

Their opener in the 36th minute was the epitome of simplicity. Frédéric Guilbert raced down the right, crossed and Ludovic Ajorque guided the ball past Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Lille, beaten 2-1 on Thursday night at Ajax to crash out of the Europa League, appeared to be suffering from the trauma of that second defeat to the Dutch league leaders. 

But just as a second consecutive loss loomed, Jose Fonte - at fault for Strasbourg’s goal - redeemed himself with the equaliser in the 87th minute.


“There's pride, because we had a Strasbourg squad that gave itself for 90 minutes,” said assistant coach Fabien Lefèvre. “Lille are not first for nothing. We feel disappointed because the guys put in a lot of effort.”

Lille boss Christophe Galtier said his men were fortunate not to lose.

“This draw is a miracle,” Galtier added. “Faced with this kind of team - we've had three of them since the beginning of January, Angers, Brest and Strasbourg - the players have to understand that the opponents are not going to give the game to them.

“We have to do things differently. We have to have more character. I am disappointed, not angry, at the lack of enterprise and determination on an offensive level.”


The stalemate took Lille to 59 points after 27 games. Galtier's men are two points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, 4-0 victors at Nimes on Saturday night

Lyon, who drew 1-1 at Marseille despite losing midfielder Lucas Paqueta 20 minutes from time for two yellow cards, are third with 56 points while Monaco remain in the hunt in fourth on 55 points following their 2-0 victory over Brest on Sunday.





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