Lille beats Nantes to boost bid for 3rd spot; Lyon goes 5th
PARIS (AP) — Benjamin André headed home the winner as Lille won 1-0 at Nantes on Sunday to boost its bid for third place in the French league and a Champions League qualifying berth next season.
Fourth-place Lille remains one point behind Rennes in third, while Lyon is in outside contention for Europe’s elite club competition after climbing up to fifth with a 2-0 home win against bitter local rival Saint-Étienne.
Lyon is in form, having impressively beaten 35-time Italian champion Juventus 1-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 game.
However, Lyon is six points behind Lille and seven adrift of Rennes with only 11 games remaining. Monaco and Montpellier also join Lyon on 40 points and trail only on goal difference.
Lyon hosts PSG in the French Cup semifinals on Wednesday night.
Dembélé was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot when he firmly headed in Martin Terrier’s cross from the left in the 27th minute.
Midfielder Lucas Tousart netted a rare goal against Juventus, and thought he had another to celebrate when he followed up Terrier’s shot in the 64th. But a video review cut short his celebrations.
Saint-Étienne top scorer Denis Bouanga almost equalized late on but his effort was hacked away. Lyon forward Karl Toko-Ekambi then had a goal chalked off because Dembélé was offside.
In the fifth minute of injury time, Dembélé calmly chipped in a penalty after a defender blocked Toko-Ekambi’s shot with a raised hand.
A brutal mass fight involving rival fans from Lyon and Saint-Étienne left nine people injured on Saturday night.
About 100 from each side met on a city-center side street in what appeared to be a pre-arranged clash.
A group of hardcore Saint-Étienne fans had disregarded a travel ban preventing them from attending the game. Instead, Saint-Étienne’s “Magic Fans” group announced on social networks that they were making the short 60-kilometer (37-mile) trip to Lyon.
Three of the injured were taken to hospital with head injuries, one reportedly suffering a serious eye injury.
Their club rivalry is one of the fiercest in French football, on and off the field.
Saint-Etienne won a record 10 league titles before falling into mediocrity in the 1980s in the aftermath of a financial scandal, while Lyon won seven straight titles from 2002-08.
Since then, PSG has taken over from Lyon as France’s biggest club.
Adam Ounas scored with a spectacular scissor-kick as he was leaping backward to meet a cross, earning his ninth-place Nice side a 1-1 draw at his former club Bordeaux.
His 57th-minute goal canceled out forward Nicolas de Preville’s opener midway through the first half. He rounded goalkeeper Walter Benitez — who had rushed off his line — and tapped home.
Inconsistent Bordeaux is 12th.