Lille slip again as Lyon continue march up table
Lille's bid for Champions League qualification from Ligue 1 faltered again on Sunday as they only just scraped a 2-2 draw away to struggling Evian.
Rene Girard's side looked like genuine title challengers at the season's halfway stage, but they have now taken just five points from six games in 2014 to lose touch on top two Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco and allow the sides behind them to close in.
Lille fell behind at the Parc des Sports in Annecy when Kevin Berigaud headed home from Modou Sougou's cross a quarter of an hour in.
They soon drew level when 18-year-old Divock Origi cut in from the left wing and curled a shot from the edge of the box into the far corner of the net for his second goal in as many league games.
Evian were back in front just after the hour mark, as Lille's Pape Souare was penalised for handball inside the area and Cedric Mongongu stepped up to score from 12 yards.
However, Lille rescued a draw - and denied Evian a first win in nine league games - thanks to a Ryan Mendes cross from the right-hand side that dropped into the net at the back post deep in stoppage time.
The point does at least edge Evian three points clear of the relegation zone, while Lille are guaranteed to hold on to third spot, although Saint-Etienne can close to within a point of them by beating Marseille later on Sunday.
- Lyon win again -
Earlier, Lyon boosted their own European hopes as they climbed provisionally into fifth with a 3-1 win at home against bottom side Ajaccio.
Remi Garde's side were looking to bounce back from their shock French Cup exit at the hands of second-tier Lens on Thursday, and goals from Gueida Fofana, Jimmy Briand and Bafetimbi Gomis saw them move to within five points of Lille.
Lyon took the lead two minutes before the interval when Alexandre Lacazette found Fofana, who took a couple of touches to set himself up before curling a shot over Ochoa from 25 yards.
They then increased their lead midway through the second period as Henri Bedimo broke into the box and cut the ball back for Briand to head home.
Kenyan international Dennis Oliech got a goal back for Ajaccio but Lyon wrapped up the points when Gomis curled a delightful finish past Ochoa into the far corner of the net for his 10th of the campaign.
OL have won five of their six Ligue 1 games in 2014 and now look like genuine contenders for a top-three finish, while Ajaccio remain rooted to the foot of the table, nine points from safety.
"We have played 11 games in five weeks. That's a lot even if we still played with energy towards the end," said Garde, whose side have a gruelling week ahead with a trip to Ukraine to face Chornormorets Odessa in the Europa League on Thursday before travelling to take on Lille next weekend.
"We're all looking forward to that tie and giving a good image of French football, but this game was our 42nd match of the season.
"Odessa is a long way away and we need to go there and back and then go to Lille next Sunday."
Elsewhere, PSG remain five points clear of Monaco at the top after both clubs won this weekend.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were among the goals as PSG eased to a 3-0 win against Valenciennes on Friday to warm up for their Champions League last 16, first leg tie away to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on Tuesday.
Monaco, meanwhile, had a brace from James Rodriguez to thank for a 2-0 victory away to Bastia in Corsica on Saturday.
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