Lille stop rot, as Khlifa floors Montpellier
- Published: 7/10/2012 at 12:49 AM
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Lille won 2-0 at home to Ajaccio on Saturday to claim only their second win of the campaign in Ligue 1, but misfiring champions Montpellier slumped to 15th place after losing to an 89th-minute goal at home to Evian.
Lille's forward Nolan Roux celebrates after scoring during their French L1 football match against Ajaccio at Lille Grand Stade stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, northern France. Lille won 2-0.
Lille, the 2011 champions, have made a dreadful start to the season, winning just two of their first 11 games in all competitions, but victory at a rain-lashed Grand Stade gave them a first win since the opening weekend.
Benoit Pedretti struck the angle of post and bar for Lille with a free-kick in the 32nd minute, but the hosts took the lead 10 minutes later when Nolan Roux converted Mathieu Debuchy's cross with a thumping header after a neat build-up.
Cape Verdean winger Ryan Mendes made it 2-0 after 11 minutes of the second half, thrashing home a half-volley that skidded past Guillermo Ochoa to claim his first goal for the club since his summer move from Le Havre.
The win enables Lille to climb into the top half of the table, and although they trail leaders Marseille by eight points, they are only four points below the top three ahead of Sunday's games.
"We wanted to rediscover the taste of victory, and we've done that," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia.
"Everyone was motivated, everyone played with desire. There are things we have to improve, but we finally managed to be clinical. The players had no doubts. I hope it's the start of a series."
Earlier, Tunisian striker Saber Khlifa sealed a superb hat-trick with a last-gasp winner to give Evian a 3-2 victory at Montpellier and bring the champions down to earth after their dramatic Champions League draw at Schalke in mid-week.
Khlifa put Evian ahead after 30 minutes but Montpellier equalised soon after from a Marco Estrada free-kick and went ahead in the 42nd minute when Souleymane Camara headed home from what appeared to be an offside position.
However, Khlifa struck again in the 62nd minute to draw his side level, bending a fine shot inside the right-hand post from 25 yards.
Montpellier substitute Gaetan Charbonnier hit the crossbar in the 87th minute and moments later Khlifa claimed the winner, confidently out-pacing Daniel Congre and then lifting the ball over Geoffrey Jourdren to complete his first Ligue 1 treble.
The result moved Evian out of the bottom three, while Montpellier remain 10 points behind Marseille and have already lost four times.
"We relaxed, and in football, you can't relax," Montpellier midfielder Benjamin Stambouli, who played at left-back, told Canal+.
"If we want the points, we have to be warriors and show more commitment. We've found it hard to handle after the title."
Elsewhere, substitute Gaetan Courtet pounced twice in the last four minutes to earn Reims a 3-1 win at home to Nice that lifted the promoted club up to fourth.
Valenciennes were prevented from climbing to third after a 20-yard effort from substitute Adrien Regattin in the last minute earned hosts Toulouse a 2-2 draw, while Mevlut Erding's seventh-minute header gave Rennes a 1-0 win at Sochaux.
In a gripping game in Corsica, bottom club Troyes twice came from behind to equalise against Bastia, despite having both Fabrice Nsakala and Xavier Thiago sent off, before finally going down 3-2 to an 87th-minute goal by Toifilou Maoulida.
The headline fixture of the weekend takes place on Sunday night, when second-place Paris Saint-Germain take on Marseille at Stade Velodrome.
PSG's unbeaten start to the season was ended by Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday, but OM crashed 4-1 at Valenciennes last weekend and will concede top spot to their arch rivals if they lose.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency