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Lille held as Ligue 1 top five separated by two points


Décines-Charpieu (France) (AFP) – Lille stuttered to a 1-1 draw at struggling Saint-Etienne on Sunday to miss the chance to draw level on points with Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Ligue 1, but the rest of the chasers took advantage of the defending champions’ latest slip-up.

Lille sit second in the table, two points behind PSG — who drew 2-2 with Bordeaux on Saturday — and above Lyon, Monaco and Montpellier on goal difference.

Lyon continued their fine form with a 3-0 win over Reims, while Monaco beat Nimes by the same scoreline to also move within two points of PSG, while Montpellier edged out Lorient.

Lille would have hoped to take all three points from a Saint-Etienne side on a seven-match losing streak in the league before kick-off.

But Christophe Galtier’s team fell behind to a first-half penalty from Tunisian Wahbi Khazri and needed a second-half strike from Jonathan Ikone to rescue a draw.

Karl Toko Ekambi, Bruno Guimaraes and Moussa Dembele scored for Lyon as they made it 16 points from their last six matches.

“We must continue in this vein and look upwards. We must put a run of victories together,” said Lyon coach Rudi Garcia.

“This is the first time that we have won three times in a row. As in Angers (last week), we had an opportunity to (move up the) table. We seized it.”

PSG gave the chasing pack a chance to cut the gap with a 2-2 home draw against Bordeaux on Saturday, having blown a two-goal lead to lose to Monaco last week.

Reims, who had Moreto Cassama sent off on 33 minutes, remain fourth from bottom and look destined for a relegation dog-fight.

Toko Ekambi, returning from suspension, proved the key for Lyon, hitting the post early on before scoring in the 22nd minute with a header at the back post from a cross by Memphis Depay. 

Toko Ekambi also created the second — Guimaraes’s first for Lyon — four minutes after the break, the Brazilian’s shot taking a deflection off Marshall Munetsi.

Toko Ekambi also teed up Dembele for the third. Dembele had just come on as a substitute for Tino Kadewere who had hit the post in the first half and had a goal ruled out for offside.

Cassama was sent off for a foul on Depay who looked to be in on goal.

– Monaco march on –

Monaco eased to victory over Nimes to notch their fourth straight league win.

Young midfielder Sofiane Diop gave the hosts an early lead at the Stade Louis II, before Gelson Martins and Kevin Volland struck in the second half to see off Nimes, who had Lucas Deaux dismissed in the 69th minute.

Germany striker Volland has scored five Ligue 1 goals for Monaco since his close-season move from Bayer Leverkusen.

The principality outfit have finished ninth and 17th in the last two seasons and coach Niko Kovac was eager to play down any thoughts of a repeat of their shock 2017 title triumph.

“The title? Not after 12 games, we’re not there, no,” said the Croatian.

“It’s a good period for us, we have to keep working, we are a young team. We will also lose matches.”

Fifth-placed Montpellier also extended their winning streak to four matches as Petar Skuletic scored late on to grab a 1-0 win at Lorient, despite midfielder Teji Savanier’s missed penalty in the first half.

Marseille, who have also won four league matches on the spin, are only four points behind PSG in sixth, with two games in hand.

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