Published on :
Paris (AFP)- Third in Ligue 1, Nice experienced an air hole in Lyon (2-0), climbed to the gates of the top-5, Saturday during a 24th day when the French champion Lille dominated and doubled Montpellier (1-0) , a contender for European places.
Capable of the best (4-1 victory against OM on Wednesday in the Coupe de France) as well as the worst (1-0 defeat against Clermont last weekend), the people of Nice fell back on the wrong side of the Lyonnais field.
This result does the business of Olympique de Marseille, guaranteed to remain the runner-up to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the 24th day, regardless of its result on Sunday (8:45 p.m.) in Metz.
The Aiglons also keep their place on the podium despite this second setback in a row in the Championship, by virtue of a sufficient lead over their pursuers Strasbourg (4th), traveling to Angers on Sunday, and Rennes (5th) who lost 1-0 Friday in Paris.
The rise to sixth place, tied on points with Rennes, gives OL some breathing room, beaten 2-0 last week in Monaco and heckled by their fans before kick-off.
“Your irregularity and your mentality are sickening, wake up!” Urged the Bad Gones ultras. The players listened to them, pulled out their claws and offered a nice show, helped by a favorable scenario.
After two minutes and thirty seconds, in fact, Nice striker Justin Kluivert, slightly jostled, touched the leather with his hand in his own area, offering a penalty to Moussa Dembélé.
The French center-forward missed it, his partner Lucas Paqueta followed well but the but was invalidated for an illicit position of the Brazilian at the start. Dembélé took the second chance offered (8th, 1-0), scoring his 4th but in 5 matches.
Dominating, the team of Peter Bosz widened the gap after a nice number from Tanguy Ndombélé and an achievement from Karl Toko-Ekambi (52nd, 2-0), returned from the African Cup of Nations.
She could have done better without stops from Walter Benitez in front of Toko Ekambi (30th) and Tino Kadewere (77th), and a save from Amine Gouiri on her line after a header from Thiago Mendes (41st). Nice was not very dangerous, except on a cross from Kluivert where Khephren Thuram, unbalanced, could have obtained a penalty (34th).
“Puff of oxygen” for Lille
At the end of the afternoon, Lille relaunched in the race for Europe with a minimalist victory in Montpellier signed Xeka (77th, 1-0).
Failing to be really biting, the “Dogues” regained momentum in the Hérault after two consecutive losses against Brest (0-2) and Paris SG (1-5). Here they are back in 8th place with 35 points, one more than their hosts, three less than 4th Strasbourg.
“We have just had a complicated week, we have given a good one” rejoiced Jocelyn Gourvennec, even mentioning a “breath of oxygen”.
Ten days before going to Chelsea in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the Lille coach left Burak Yilmaz and Hatem Ben Arfa on the bench at kick-off, as well as goalkeeper Ivo Grbic whose mistakes cost dearly against PSG.
Léo Jardim, his replacement, held the entry booth against volleys from Téj Savanier (4th), excellent for his return after 3 suspension matches, from Junior Sambia (17th) and Florent Mollet (25th). Five minutes from the end of regulation time, the Brazilian was almost put in danger from the penalty spot, but the referee Stéphanie Frappart retracted after recourse to the VAR.
“It was not the most beautiful of matches, but we were looking for victory and we got it”, savored on Prime Video the Portuguese midfielder Xeka, author of his third goal only this season in all competitions (success 1- 0 against PSG in the Champions Trophy in August and 2-1 against Rennes in L1 in December).
For Montpellier, the year 2022 sent the bad news: it was their fourth setback in five league games.
© 2022 AFP