Lille beats Guingamp 1-0 in France
PARIS (AP) Lille edged Guingamp 1-0 to pull within six points of second-place Monaco in the French league despite a mediocre performance on Sunday.
Also, Saint-Etienne kept pace with Lille in the race for a Champions League spot by defeating Lyon 2-1 and Rennes thrashed mid-table Bastia 3-0 to move closer to securing safety.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Lille centerback Marko Basa redirected a corner toward Salomon Kalou, who flicked home the winner for his 11th league goal this season.
”We struggle each time we face a team parking the bus,” Kalou said. ”We don’t find the solutions.”
Lille looked a far cry from the side that was neck and neck with leader Paris Saint-Germain in December. Guingamp had three clear-cut chances in the second half but failed to convert them.
Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama denied striker Mustapha Yatabare in the 52nd and parried a volley from midfielder Fatih Atik in the 55th. Christophe Mandanne then rounded Enyeama in the 60th but centerback Simon Kjaer rushed back to clear off the line the low effort from the Guingamp forward.
At Stade Gerland, Max-Alain Gradel gave Saint-Etienne the victory in the heated Rhone derby. The Saint-Etienne substitute converted a rebound in the 74th after goalkeeper Anthony Lopes palmed a cross from Renaud Cohade into his path.
”I’m so happy for the supporters,” Gradel said. ”We made it for them because for years they’ve been humiliated. Today, we want to thank them with this victory.”
Saint-Etienne opened the scoring in the 28th when Brazilian forward Brandao knocked a high ball down for Mevlut Erding, who beat Lopes from close range.
Bafetimbi Gomis helped the hosts equalize in the 39th by dribbling past two defenders to send a ball over the top to Alexandre Lacazette. The Lyon striker volleyed into the bottom corner for his 14th league goal this season.
A physical Saint-Etienne side kept Yoann Gourcuff quiet. The Lyon playmaker was replaced at halftime after picking up an ankle injury following a tackle from Cohade, who received a yellow card.
Saint-Etienne remained in fourth place, three points behind Lille but six clear of Lyon.
In Rennes, the hosts took the lead in the 14th minute with a powerful strike from winger Romain Alessandrini that goalkeeper Mickael Landreau fumbled into his own net.
Sweden forward Ola Toivonen fired a half-volley into the top corner to double the lead in the 28th and set up midfielder Jean Makoun for the third goal in the 59th.
”The players are pulling more and more for each other,” Rennes defender Sylvain Armand said. ”It bodes well for the end of the season.”
Paris Saint-Germain edged Nice 1-0 on Friday to extend its lead over second-place Monaco to 13 points with just seven rounds left.
On Saturday, it was: Sochaux 1, Marseille 1; Ajaccio 2, Toulouse 2; Evian 1, Monaco 0; Montpellier 0, Valenciennes 0; Nantes 0, Bordeaux 0; and Reims 1, Lorient 1.