Olympique Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons (centre) challenges Dimitri Payet (left) of Lille during their French Ligue 1 match at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, on Sunday.
PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain’s hopes of winning a first French crown since 1994 and thereby giving David Beckham’s upcoming stint in the City of Light a glorious tinge were boosted Sunday when their nearest rivals dropped points.
Lyon slumped to what could prove to be a significant 3-1 home loss to mid-table Lille as the easterners failed to make inroads into a six-point deficit while third-placed Marseille, the 2010 champions, could only manage a 1-1 draw at modest Evian after finishing with nine men.
Lyon handed Lille their first win of 2013 after the hosts turned in a pale showing at the Stade Gerland.
Aurelien Chedjou headed Lille in front from a corner on the half hour and then Dimitri Payet fed Florent Balmont, formerly of Lyon, for the second on the stroke of half-time.
Salomon Kalou made it 3-0 to the visitors with a penalty five minutes after the restart following a handball by Milan Bisevac before Argentine striker Lisandro pulled one back from the spot after Chedjou was adjudged to have impeded him. While Lyon, all of whose titles came on a roll between 2002 and 2008, went down to their fifth league loss, Marseille found struggling Evian an irritating rival.
Andre-Pierre Gignac scored five minutes after the break for Marseille, playing a one-two with Mathieu Valbuena, for his eighth goal of the season.
But the southerners’ hopes of a win evaporated when Yannick Sagbo levelled on the hour from the penalty spot to leave OM eight points off the summit.
The spot-kick came following a foul on Saber Khlifa by Kassim Abdallah, for which the latter, an international defender for the Comoros Islands, saw red as the last man.
Marseille also had Ghanaian star Jordan Ayew sent off with 15 minutes remaining for two yellow cards in quick succession after coming on as a substitute and were unable to do better than glean only their second point in their last three league matches, leaving coach Elie Baup frustrated.
“It’s not enough as you always hope to win. We could have done but then we ended up down to nine men. I did see some interesting elements for the future.”
On Ayew’s swift dismissal Baup said: “You have to be careful once you’re on a booking. He’s young and impulsive but this will help him to mature. It’s a painful learning process for everyone. These are things which can be avoided,” Baup reflected.
Marseille also suffered from the absence through Ayew’s brother Andre and Joey Barton. AFP