Lyon grind out win to reclaim top spot in France

A scrappy goal credited to Nabil Fekir was enough for Lyon to beat Nantes 1-0 at the Stade de Gerland on Sunday and move back to the top of the Ligue 1 table.

AFP| Updated: Feb 23, 2015, 08:35 AM IST
Lyon grind out win to reclaim top spot in France

Paris: A scrappy goal credited to Nabil Fekir was enough for Lyon to beat Nantes 1-0 at the Stade de Gerland on Sunday and move back to the top of the Ligue 1 table.

Hubert Fournier`s side broke the deadlock midway through the second half when Yoann Gourcuff and Alexandre Lacazette combined to set up Fekir, although the final touch appeared to come off Nantes defender Kian Hansen as the ball dribbled over the line.

It was Lyon`s first attempt on target but the goal allowed them to make it 11 league games without defeat as they reopened a two-point gap to reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Toulouse 3-1 on Saturday.

OL are also five points ahead of third-placed Marseille, who travel to Saint-Etienne later on Sunday evening.

"It is a relief after a difficult match against a well-organised Nantes team who left us very little space," said Fournier, whose side now have consecutive away games to come at Lille, Montpellier and Marseille.

"This victory was important before we have three straight away matches against difficult teams. It would be wiser to wait until after these games to see if we can still trouble Paris and stay on the podium."

Lyon had drawn their last three matches in the absence of 21-goal leading scorer Lacazette, but he returned after a hamstring injury to lead the line against a Nantes side still looking for their first league win of 2015.

In a game of few clear chances, Nantes could have opened the scoring in the first half when Serge Gakpe broke in behind the home defence only to prod his shot wide of the far post.

Lyon almost broke the deadlock five minutes before the interval as Fekir crashed a free-kick against the junction of bar and post.

Apart from that, Nantes `keeper Remy Riou was never really troubled until the goal, although he was called into action to deny substitute Clinton Njie before he conceded a penalty in stoppage time for bringing down Fekir in the box.

However, with the last kick of the game, captain Maxime Gonalons missed the opportunity to score his first Ligue 1 goal in over two years as he put the penalty wide.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Montpellier boosted their chances of qualifying for Europe with a 2-0 win against Guingamp in Brittany.Morgan Sanson gave the visitors a second-minute lead and Guingamp, perhaps feeling the effects of Thursday`s Europa League win against Dynamo Kiev, were unable to come back into the game.

Kevin Berigaud doubled Montpellier`s lead in the second half and they could have won by a greater margin, but Djamel Bakar hit the bar with a late penalty.

For Guingamp, it was a first defeat in eight games in all competitions and a first loss at home since November.

Meanwhile, Metz remain bottom of the table on goal difference after seeing their run without a league win extended to 14 games as they drew 0-0 at Reims.

On Saturday, Adrien Rabiot scored twice and Thiago Silva was also on target as PSG downed Toulouse to temporarily move above Lyon.

Monaco warmed up for their Champions League trip to Arsenal in midweek by winning 1-0 at Nice in the Cote d`Azur derby on Friday night thanks to a late Bernardo Silva strike.

There were also wins for Caen and SC Bastia, who are now undefeated in nine league games after coming from behind to beat Lille 2-1.

Rennes and Bordeaux drew 1-1 while the game between Evian and Lorient was called off because of snow in Annecy, in the shadow of the Alps.