Lille blows two-goal lead to Auxerre
LIGUE 1 FIXTURES
|Saturday, March 3|
|Sunday, March 4|
|More: Ligue 1| Standings|Stats|
Eden Hazard's double either side of half-time seemingly had Lille in control despite the 41st-minute dismissal of Mauro Cetto.
Auxerre were then in even deeper trouble when substitute Anthony Le Tallec was dismissed on 67 minutes but goals from Ben Sahar and Cedric Hengbart inside the final 10 minutes snatched an unlikely point.
While it was not enough to edge Auxerre out of the drop zone the ramifications were felt at the other end of the table where Lille missed a glorious chance to close on the leaders.
With Montpellier also being held on Saturday they remained seven points off the top, and could find themselves further behind when second-placed Paris St Germain host Ajaccio on Sunday.
Sought-after winger Hazard fired a free-kick just wide while a Joe Cole half-volley was turned away by Olivier Sorin as Lille probed early.
Dariusz Dudka warned of Auxerre's threat when his fierce 30-yard free-kick needed a strong hand from Mickael Landreau before Lille went ahead through Hazard on 34 minutes.
The Belgium international curled in a delightful free-kick to score for the fifth consecutive home game.
Lille were down to 10 men soon after though when Cetto received a second caution for a foul on Dennis Oliech, but when Hazard doubled his side's lead from the penalty spot it hardly looked like worrying them.
The 21-year-old had been felled by Willy Boly and tucked away the spot-kick on 61 minutes for his 11th league goal of the campaign.
Lille's night then looked like it would get easier when Le Tallec was given his marching orders, just 10 minutes after coming on, for a bad foul on Benoit Pedretti.
Somehow, however, Lille let their lead slip in five crucial minutes late on.
Sahar began the comeback on 80 minutes when he converted after Oliech's pull back and five minutes later Hengbart timed his run perfectly to head in a crucial leveller.