French Ligue One Roundup, Dec. 19
Lyon and Marseille drew 1-1 in a high-stakes match between two French league title contenders on Sunday.
Lille tops the standings on goal difference, level on 31 points with Paris Saint-Germain and Rennes. Lyon dropped to fourth place with 30 points while defending champion Marseille remained in fifth place with 28.
"It’s a good result, even though it’s only a point," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps told Canal Plus television. "We had spells of domination in the first half but Lyon scored on its only chance. In the second half, we didn’t manage to score a second goal."
Lille’s game versus Nancy and Lens’ match against Caen were postponed because of heavy snowfall. No new date has been set for either match.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux drew 1-1 with Sochaux, missing an opportunity to make up ground in the title race.
Lyon scored against the run of play in the 35th minute, converting its first chance. Brazil midfielder Michel Bastos charged down the right flank to make a low cross that eluded the Marseille defense. Argentine forward Lisandro Lopez, unmarked at the far post, took a touch before shooting past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from 10 yards.
Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena leveled in the 51st, stretching out his right foot to divert home a long-range effort from Benoit Cheyrou.
"We could have expected better tonight," Lyon coach Claude Puel said. "But earning a point at Marseille isn’t bad.
"I have some regrets because we didn’t start the second half well. They had more physical impact and put more pressure on us."
Marseille dominated the first half, but Lyon absorbed the pressure without cracking.
Marseille had the first chance after six minutes when Lyon defender Dejan Lovren’s clearance hit teammate Pape Diakhate, and Andre Ayew pounced on the loose ball to slam a low shot that was blocked by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Marseille playmaker Lucho Gonzalez found Cheyrou inside the area with a chipped pass in the 19th. Cheyrou controlled the ball with his chest but his bicycle kick lacked power.
The crowd at Stade Velodrome erupted when Andre-Pierre Gignac fired home a low drive in the 21st. But the goal was disallowed for an offside calll on winger Loic Remy, who had attempted to divert in Gignac’s shot. Remy did not touch the ball but played an active role in the play.
Bastos came close to doubling the lead for Lyon in the 41st, outpacing fullback Taye Taiwo to hit a low shot wide of the post.
After Marseille equalized, Lyon had half-chances in the 64th and 70th but Bafetimbi Gomis and Bastos both missed.
Marseille nearly capitalized on a mistake from Lyon defender Pape Diakhate, whose weak header was intercepted by Gignac in the 76th, but the Marseille forward’s close-range shot sailed wide.
In Sochaux, Ideye Brown scored his eighth goal of the season to earn a draw for the hosts.
Brown found the net in the 35th from midfielder Marvin Martin’s season-leading eighth assist.
Brazilian midfielder Jussie had opened the scoring for Bordeaux by heading home a corner from Jaroslav Plasil in the 28th.
Sochaux pushed hard for the winner in the second half. Brown knocked the ball down for Martin to chest it down and strike the crossbar in the 73rd.
Bordeaux goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso salvaged the point by using his leg to stop a low shot from David Sauget in the 90th.
"It’s the same old story since the start of the season," Carrasso told Canal Plus television. "Each time we have the opportunity to make up ground. But it’s only opportunities, we still have to convert them. And today we didn’t."
Bordeaux slipped to ninth place with 26 points, five behind leader Lille.
Sochaux, which has the best home record in the league, is in 11th place with 25 points.
"We can have regrets after our second half," Sochaux coach Francis Gillot said. "But Bordeaux could have made the difference in the first half. Overall, the result is quite fair."
On Saturday, it was: Paris Saint-Germain 2, Monaco 2; Rennes 1, Valenciennes 0; Saint-Etienne 2, Arles-Avignon 0; Nice 1, Brest 1; Montpellier 1, Auxerre 1 and Toulouse 3, Lorient 0.