French Ligue One Roundup, Feb. 13
Gervinho scored his 11th league goal of the season and set up another for Tulio De Melo as Lille beat Toulouse 2-0 to stay five points clear of Rennes at the top of the French league on Sunday.
Lille took the lead with a bizarre first-half goal, and Gervinho set up De Melo for an easy goal in the fourth minute of injury time.
Lille coach Rudi Garcia’s team is now unbeaten in the league for 13 matches, last losing to Marseille at home on Oct. 24.
Lille striker Moussa Sow’s shot was pushed onto the post by goalkeeper Matthieu Valverde in the 38th minute, the loose ball breaking to Gervinho, whose scuffed, spinning strike was helped into the net by defender Adrian Javier Gunino.
The goal was credited to Gervinho, even though it looked like an own goal by the defender.
Sow almost made it 2-0 just before halftime when he burst into the penalty area and hit a low shot that Valverde kicked away near his right post.
With two minutes remaining, Sow – the French league’s top scorer with 16 goals – broke free down the left before trying to curl the ball in for his 17th rather than passing to the unmarked Gervinho.
Gervinho showed how to be unselfish when the Ivory Coast forward cut through the Toulouse defense down the right and squared the ball to De Melo, who was lurking near the penalty spot and swept the ball home with seconds remaining.
Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau did not even have a shot to save in his 500th appearance in the French league.
Earlier, Victor Hugo Montano and Abdoulrazak Boukari scored in the second half as second-place Rennes beat Nice 2-0 at home to stay in second place – one point clear of third-place Marseille and two ahead of Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain.
"I’ve always said that there are five teams who have more room for error than us," Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti said of his team’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League. "The objective is to be ready if one of them slips up."
Montano put Rennes ahead when he headed in veteran midfielder Jerome Leroy’s chipped pass in the 52nd minute, and Boukari added another from the penalty spot shortly after.
"These youngsters are surprising. We have the youngest team in France, despite Jerome Leroy," Antonetti said. "They are imposing themselves more and more … but I am still waiting to see them away from home."
Rennes is gaining in confidence after beating title rival Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 at home last weekend.
"We had to follow up our win against PSG and we did it well," Antonetti said. "We should have scored in the first half, but couldn’t manage to despite having four or five chances."
But Antonetti is worried that away form will cost Rennes this season. The team has not won away since Sept. 25.
"We’ve had a real problem away from home," he said.
Gregory Pujol’s ninth league goal of the season led Valenciennes to a 3-0 home win over Brest and moved it five points away from the relegation zone.
David Ducourtioux and Milan Bisevac scored the other goals to put Valenciennes 2-0 up at halftime.
Pujol struck in the 69th minute to equal his best-ever league tally.