Lille stay top of French league despite Lyon stalemate

Paris: Lille maintained a tenuous grip on the Ligue 1 top spot but lost ground on the chasing pack after being held 1-1 by fellow title-chasers Lyon.

The northerners are just ahead of Rennes on goal difference, both have 46 points after 25 games, after the Brittany side won 2-0 at home to struggling Lens on Saturday.

Champions Marseille and Paris Saint Germain showed they are very much in the running by winning their games as just four points separate the top five teams.

Lille have seen their campaign falter with just one victory in seven matches in all competitions, and were eliminated from the Europa League during the week.

The host side got off to a quickfire start when Senegalese striker Moussa Sow opened after nine minutes, but Lyon`s Swedish international midfielder Kim Kallstrom grabbed the equaliser after 26 minutes.

Lyon drop one place to fifth, four points behind the leaders, with coach Claude Puel`s future in doubt, despite his side holding Real Madrid 1-1 in Champions League action mid-week.

Marseille owed their 2-1 success to a double from midfielder Andre Ayew as they were pushed hard by struggling Nancy who opened after 32 minutes following a superb solo effort from Julien Feret.

Ghanian internationl Ayew equalised just before the break and netted the winner four minutes from time following an error by Nancy goalkeeper Damien Gregorini to ensure the visitors stay third, a point behind Lille and Rennes.

It was a precious victory and fourth in a row in Ligue 1 for Didier Deschamp`s men before they begin a heated month of March - with Lille, Rennes, Manchester United and Paris on the menu.

"It was tricky after Wednesday`s match," said Deschamps, whose side held Manchester United 0-0 in the home leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

"There were a lot of players missing, some were on the bench but we couldn`t risk using them.”

"It was important, all the top teams are taking points. We`ve got our fourth win in a row, it`s good. We needed that."

Bureau Report