Ligue 1

Ligue 1 Round-Up: Unrest at Lille continues as relegation looms

Sunday 1st April:

Lille 0-1 Amiens

Trouble at Lille has threatened to escalate to boiling point over the course of the season, and this weekend’s home defeat to fellow strugglers Amiens only helped to force home the issue that caused sections of the Lille faithful to so openly riot against their club’s leadership. The unsavoury scenes like those against Montpellier hold no place in football, with ex-Lille superstar Eden Hazard even urging supporters to remain behind the team as the Ligue 1 season draws to a close, threatening to pull Les Dogues out of the division.

The game this weekend was played behind closed doors, a sobering reminder of the trouble from last month, and the stark lack of support from the vocal Lille supporters certainly didn’t help the relegation strugglers’ cause.

The home side had even created the better chances in the first half, but ultimately were punished for their misses just after the restart. Junior Alonso’s indecision was pounced upon by Stiven Mendoza, who slotted cooly past Mike Maignan. Lille’s recent poor form was compounded as full-time drew to a close, Thiago Mendes twice cracking efforts against the woodwork.

This season’s relegation battle is closer than ever, and if either of Mendes’ strikes had found the back of the net instead of the uprights then Lille’s momentum may have carried them to a crucial three points. However, as it stands Les Dogues are facing the drop and exiting France’s top flight with barely a whimper. Since current manager Christophe Galtier took the reigns from Marcelo Bielsa earlier this season, with the enigmatic Argentine having only picked up three wins from the first 14 league games before his departure, Lille’s form has remained poor – despite a slight resurgence with the managerial chance.

Lille are now winless in their last eight, and have only collected nine points from their 12 league clashes since Galtier’s arrival. This stark run of form shows no evident signs of ending, and with crowd unrest and a miss-match squad seemingly at odds with each other, the situation at Lille threatens to take another unwanted turn for the worst as Ligue 2 beckons with every passing week.

Elsewhere in Ligue 1:

Guingamp 2-1 Bordeaux – a tight contest between two out of form outfits burst into life after 55 minutes, when Clement Grenier fired home a superb free-kick past Benoit Costil. Guingamp edged further in front four minutes later, Moustapha Diallo’s strike arrowing past Costil from just outside the penalty area. Ten minutes from time, highly coveted Brazilian star Malcom stabbed home a consolation for the visitors.

Caen 1-3 Montpellier – Montpellier moved into fifth place after an impressive away victory at Caen. A six game unbeaten streak for the visitors continued after a rapid start saw Giovanni Sio tap home from close range after 22 minutes. A minute later, and it was two-nil – Sio flicked on Junior Sambia’s delivery and Ellyes Skhiri headed past Remy Vercoutre. Sio notched his second of game after 54 minutes, before Ivan Santini’s consolation two minutes from time.

Nantes 0-3 St Etienne – Nantes’ recent poor form sees them further jeopardise their chances of European football next season, after another limp performance in their convincing home defeat to St Etienne. Mathieu Debuchy strengthened this own personal aspirations with a strike after 17 minutes, before Remy Cabella slotted home on 54 minutes to plunge Claudio Ranieri’s side into further trouble. Cabella grabbed his brace shortly after, firing low from range, to round off the scoring.

Strasbourg 2-2 Metz – An entertaining clash between two sides near the foot of the table was decided by Ernest Saka’s late equaliser for the home side. Strasbourg edged in front after 17 minutes, Stephane Bahoken stabbing home from close range. But the visitors, who have proved so dogged despite their looming relegation, equalised on 23 minutes when Emmanuel Riviere stroked home from the penalty spot. Metz then took the lead two minutes after the restart, Florent Mollet volleying home Mathieu Dossevi’s delivery. Following a red card for both sides, Seka forced a share of the spoils on 78 minutes.

Troyes 0-2 Nice – Nice’s charge for European football continued after Alassane Plea’s double. Nice’s striker opened the scoring after 16 minutes, when he rifled an effort inside Erwin Zelazny’s near post. Plea and Balotelli then saw further efforts for the visitors chalked off for offside. But Plea wouldn’t be denied again, and tapped home Nice’s second late on to secure an important three points for the visitors.

Dijon 1-3 Marseille – Marseille increased their chances of European football next season after an impressive victory at Dijon. After Cedric Yambere gifted possession to the visitors after 36 minutes, Marseille flooded forward and Valere Germain poked home Dimitri Payet’s cross for the opener. Changhoon Kwon found the leveller deep into the second half just a minute after replacing the dangerous Wesley Said, before Lucas Ocampos converted from close range after Germain had cleverly flicked on Payet’s corner. Payet’s spot kick in stoppage time was then saved, but the Frenchman would not be denied from 12 yards a second time, after he converted another penalty on 95 minutes.

Lyon 2-0 Toulouse – Lyon reduced the gap on third place by two points, after a comfortable home victory over struggling Toulouse. A brace from the returning Memphis Depay secured maximum points from Bruno Genesio’s side. The Dutchman capitalised on a dominant opening period for Lyon, after firing home a right-footed finish from just inside the penalty area. Depay then notched his brace after converting from the penalty spot, following Ibrahim Sangare’s foul on Tanguy Ndombele inside the box.

Fixtures to look out for next week:

Monaco vs Nantes – Monaco will be looking to tighten their grip on second place, whilst Nantes’ poor form must come to an end otherwise Claudio Ranieri’s side will miss out on European football next season.

Bordeaux vs Lille – Two sides in wretched form: Bordeaux are in the midst of a poor run under Gus Poyet whist Lille need to rapidly string together results or will be relegated.

Marseille vs Montpellier – Marseille are on the outskirts of the race for a Champions League spot, while Montpellier’s recent resurgence has seen them rise into fifth place. This promises to be an entertaining clash between two strong, ambitious sides.

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