Sala brace not enough as Nantes draws 2-2 with Lille

February 11, 2018

PARIS (AP) Lyon conceded further ground in the tight fight for second place in the French league after losing 2-0 at home to Rennes on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Lyon has lost three straight games since an inspired win against league leader Paris Saint-Germain last month, and is four points behind third-placed Marseille and five behind second-placed Monaco. PSG won 1-0 at Toulouse on Saturday, thanks to Neymar's goal, and is 17 points ahead of Lyon.

For all of Lyon's undoubted attacking flair, it still defends badly and the opening goal from Rennes after five minutes perfectly demonstrated this ongoing weakness. Following Rennes' clearance up the field, Lyon's Brazilian center half Marcelo clumsily headed the ball straight into the path of winger Whabi Khazri, who ran through before calmly slotting the ball under goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Lyon top scorer Nabil Fekir remonstrated angrily with the officials after his claims for a second-half penalty were turned down. He appeared to be clearly impeded as he changed direction inside the area.

But Lyon was wide open in defense once again for the second goal, scored by midfielder James Lea Siliki in the third minute of injury time. He was left unmarked in the penalty area and beat Lopes at the second attempt after his first effort was saved.

''It's very disappointing, we have a quality squad. We really had to win tonight,'' said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, who was also angry that Fekir was not awarded a penalty. ''Some decisions weren't justified.''

The win moved inconsistent Rennes up to eighth place, one point behind seventh-placed Bordeaux.



Striker Emiliano Sala's two goals were not enough as fifth-placed Nantes was held 2-2 at home to Lille.

Sala twice gave Nantes the lead to take his personal tally to 10 league goals for the season. But struggling Lille earned a point thanks to South African forward Lebo Mothiba and striker Nicolas Pepe, who came off the bench in the second half to grab a fine equalizer.

Sala showed good balance to drill a low shot into the bottom left corner in the 17th minute, only for Mothiba to equalize with a powerful downward header in the 68th. Three minutes later, Sala headed home a fine cross from Lima. But Pepe struck in the 81st with a run and precise curling shot into the bottom left.

Nantes is only one point ahead of Montpellier, while Lille is 16th.

Also, Strasbourg beat Troyes 2-1 at home to climb above Saint-Etienne and into 13th on goal difference.

Midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou and veteran forward Jeremy Blayac scored in quick succession midway through the second half. Striker Adama Niane grabbed an injury-time consolation goal for 19th-placed Troyes.

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