Ligue 1 Daily – Lille frozen at the top

After a week of snowfall almost brought British football to a complete standstill, fans were forced to scour the continent for their fix. Fortunately, just two top-flight games in France were claimed by the conditions, and the matches that went ahead only increased the difficulty of choosing the league winner come the end of May.

The pick of the weekend’s action came at Stade Velodrome where Olympique de Marseille faced Olympique Lyonnais in a clash that saw the two highest spenders of the last transfer window collide. Andre-Pierre Gignac and Loic Remy, both of whom are OM summer recruits, were largely wasteful in front of goal. The former had a goal disallowed for offside, but the pair lacked the quality of Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez – who opened the scoring and in doing so scored his eighth goal in 11 games. Lyon were pegged back after Mathieu Valbuena instinctively stretched out a foot to redirect Benoit Cheyrou’s long range effort goalwards, and beyond Hugo Lloris, who had been left stranded by the deflection.

Neither side were able to find a second goal, so they joined Paris Saint Germain in leaving the field ruing missed opportunities. Antoine Kombouare’s side conceded a late leveller after Nene had equalised, and then put PSG 2-1 ahead against struggling Monaco with a fine brace. The draw ensured that the Parisians passed up the chance to clear at the top of the league, meaning that Lille retained the number one spot on goal difference.

As Marseille and Lyon cancelled each other out the main beneficiaries were Rennes, who left it late to overcome an industrious Valenciennes outfit and move into third place. Coach Frederic Antonetti was delighted with his team’s last minute win. He said: “It’s a deserved result, even if it took its time in coming. We were a lot better than against Monaco and Bordeaux. Our solidity is our greatest strength, and I’m proud of that. We lacked a little imagination, a little subtlety, but it’s not easy to find solutions. We managed to find one from a set-piece. The game rewarded the team that took the most initiative.”

Just five points separate the top half, although Lille have a game in hand after their clash with AS Nancy was postponed on Sunday. Should the league continue to display that anyone can beat anyone, then each side within the top 10 can harbour genuine title ambitions. Another round of games before Christmas means that teams will have to make full use of the players at their disposal during the festive period. Marseille were only able to name six substitutes against Lyon, and travel to Brest on Wednesday aiming to win their first league game in five attempts.

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