David Ngog atoned for a first-half penalty miss by heading home the winning goal as Reims defeated Lille 1-0 to move up to third in the Ligue 1 table.
Ngog saw his 19th-minute spot-kick saved by Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan but the former Liverpool forward did find the back of the net 11 minutes after half-time to earn Reims their fourth win of the campaign. A Reims victory looked an unlikely proposition early on as mid-table Lille made a flying start to the match, creating three great openings in the opening seven minutes, the first of which almost saw Eric Bautheac net a brilliant goal.
In what looked a well-rehearsed training ground move, Sofiane Boufal floated a corner to the edge of the box where Bautheac let fly with a first-time volley that crashed against the left-hand post before rebounding across the goal and hitting the right one.
The loose ball fell to Junior Tallo but he smashed his shot over. Tallo was also involved in Lille’s next two opportunities, seeing his sixth-minute shot saved by the legs of Johny Placide following a mazy run by Boufal, before setting Yassine Benzia up soon after for a shot that Placide parried.
It was all Lille at that point but they could easily have fallen behind when Djibril Sidibe clumsily took Nicolas de Preville’s feet from under him inside the area, earning the hosts a penalty.
However, Reims could not take advantage as Ngog’s low spot-kick was well-saved by Maignan low to his right. Ngog had another chance going into half-time but his great first-time effort on the volley was plucked out of the air by Maignan.
Ngog would not be denied for a third time though, putting Reims ahead in the 56th minute with a flying close-range header after Lille had lost possession on the half-way line. Lille, who had drawn four of their opening six games, could not find a way back after that with Reims looking the more likely to add to the scoreline in the closing stages.