Lyon coach Hubert Fournier acknowledged their French title hope took a big hit in a 2-1 loss to Lille on Saturday that opened the door for defending champion Paris Saint-Germain to move to the top.
Leader Lyon made the perfect start thanks to a third-minute goal through midfielder Corentin Tolisso. Alexandre Lacazette, the league’s 21-goal top-scorer, went close with a free kick as Lyon dominated.
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But Lille, which has struggled to score, hit back in the second half through midfielders Idrissa Gueye and Rony Lopes, who is on loan from Manchester City, to hand Lyon its first defeat in 12 league games.
”Our lethargy in the second half was the main reason for this defeat. It’s a big blow,” Fournier said. ”We were up against it from the first minute of the second half. We conceded two goals in four minutes and that killed us. Our good run has come to an end but I hope we’re able to go on another one.”
PSG was two points behind and can take first place if it wins at Monaco on Sunday.
Marseille, which threw away a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 home loss to Caen on Friday, was two points behind PSG.
Elsewhere, Saint-Etienne’s miserable year continued as it was held to 1-1 at relegation-threatened Toulouse, while Bordeaux’s home match against Reims also ended 1-1. Rennes recorded its first league victory since December by winning 1-0 at second-to-last Lens, bottom club Metz lost 2-1 at home to Evian, and Lorient beat in-form Bastia 2-0.
Although Lyon has only the league to focus on because it is eliminated from all cup competitions, its title credentials are likely to be severely tested in the next two weeks with away trips to Montpellier and Marseille.
Tolisso profited from slack marking to run onto Nabil Fekir’s corner and fire past goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
After going close with a free kick, Lacazette had another effort blocked toward the end of the first half.
Lille equalized in the second half when Gueye swapped passes with Lopes and side-footed the ball comfortably past goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Four minutes later, Rony Lopes collected the ball some 35 meters out on the right, cut inside, held off Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons, and curled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
A last gasp-goal extended Saint-Etienne’s winless streak to seven league matches, although it moved provisionally level on points with fourth-place Monaco.
Max Gradel drove a powerful penalty under the bar on the stroke of halftime after Romain Hamouma was fouled by Uros Spajic.
It appeared as if Saint-Etienne was on course for only its second Ligue 1 win of 2015, but Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro netted a superb equalizer two minutes from time.
Toulouse was left level on points with Evian, two points from safety.
Bordeaux remained a point behind Saint-Etienne following a match in which it dominated Reims but struggled to create clear goalscoring opportunities.