Lille drop points in Montpellier draw, Marseille edge past Lorient
PARIS: Leaders Lille dropped two precious points in a tight Ligue 1 title race when they drew 1-1 at home against Montpellier on Friday.
Luiz Araujo’s late goal cancelled out Andy Delort’s first-half opener for Montpellier as Lille were let on 70 points from 33 games, four ahead of second-placed Paris St Germain who host St Etienne on Sunday.
Third-placed Monaco, travelling to Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday, have 65 points and fourthplaced Olympique Lyonnnais who play Nantes away, also on Sunday, have 64.
Montpellier’shopesofclinchingaeuropaleague place faded as they stayed eighth on 47 points.
Lille tested goalkeeper Jonas Omlin early on through Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan Ikone but Montpellier stayed solid.
Gaetan Laborde was played through by Jordan Ferri before his cross was headed home by Delort as the visitors took the lead in the 21st minute.
The hosts piled on the pressure in the second half, but Benjamin Andre’s powerful shot from outside the area crashed onto the post in the 57th minute as Montpellier held on.
Omlin pulled another couple of great saves to deny Jonathan Ikone and Jonathan David but there was nothing he could do when Luiz Araujo unleashed a delighful let-footed strike to level with five minutes let.
Lille threatened some more in seven minutes of stoppage time but were not clinical enough to clinch the win.
Montpellier are a resolute side and have now gone 14 matches in all competitions without defeat.
They are eighth and still well-placed to claim a European place next season.
Meanwhile, Pol Lirola scored his first two goals for Marseille and hit an injury-time winner as Jorge Sampaoli’s side claimed a 3-2 home victory over Lorient on Saturday.
Nigerian striker Terem Moffi struck twice for the visitors but hobbled off with an injury before Lirola won the game in added time.
Moffi, his side’s top scorer following his October arrival from Belgian club Kortrijk, finished off a sharp counter-atack to give the Bretons a first-half lead at the Velodrome.
The hosts had picked up 10 points from a possible 15 since the appointment of Sampaoli, and they levelled through a sensational Dimitri Payet volley on 53 minutes.