Lille win to stay in touch with PSG at top

The big match in Ligue 1 this weekend saw Lyon and Marseille draw 2-2 in a thrilling game. At the top of the table it was business as usual for PSG. Read about all the action here.

Lille win to stay in touch with PSG at top
Lille players celebrate scoring a goal in their 2-1 against Bastia, which keeps them in the hunt for the league title, behind PSG, who also won on Saturday. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou snapped his eight match scoring drought in style as he struck twice to help Lille to a 2-1 win over Bastia and back into the Ligue 1 title race.

The 2012 Champions League winner, who was Lille's top scorer last season with 16 goals, took his tally this season to five with a brace of first-half strikes that ultimately downed the Corsican visitors.

Also on Sunday, seven-time champions Lyon were driven by first-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette, his ninth of the season, and French international Bafetimbi Gomis to put them 2-0 up before Marseille launched a stirring comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw.

Remi Garde's team remain in the top ten amidst a mini-revival, while new Marseille coach Jose Anigo picked up his first league points since taking over from fired predecessor Elie Baup.

Marseille drop to sixth with the draw and fall 15 points back of leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Andre-Pierre Gignac pulled the Velodrome giants back into the tie with a goal just before half-time before Florian Thauvin smashed home a desperate equaliser with 11 minutes remaining.

At Lille, Ludovic Genest gave Bastia a stunning start to the match when he hit the target after only three minutes with a long distance volley that flew past Lille's African champion goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

However Rene Girard's men refused to buckle and took an important stride towards their 12th win in 18 matches when Kalou scored twice in five minutes.

The first was a dipping shot on 17 minutes from outside the box that left Bastia's keeper Mickael Landreau – the record-holder for Ligue 1 appearances – flapping, before he blasted another missile past the former Nantes and PSG custodian moments later.

"It was about time I scored because the team has been playing well and it was up to us, the strikers, to make the difference up front," said Kalou.

"Two months without scoring is a long time and it's annoying when you're a striker and don't score but I knew it was just a matter of time.

"We've had a very positive start to the season and not many people would have bet on Lille being on the podium heading into the winter break but it was important to get some early results and put distance between ourselves and our direct rivals, such as our wins over Marseille and Monaco.

"It's going to be a good match (against PSG next Sunday), although we know we'll create less chances than Paris. They are the favourites and the team to beat in the championship but we've got a good defence and have to take the chances we get."

Earlier, Bordeaux continued their rich vein of form with a come-from-behind 2-1 home win over third-from-bottom Valenciennes.

The visitors took the lead ten minutes inside the second half through Mali midfielder Tongo Doumbia, before in-form Brazilan Jussie equalised from the penalty spot three minutes later.

The hero for the Girodins was Frenchman Nicolas Maurice-Belay who grabbed the decisive goal with 17 minutes remaining to lift his side into temporary possession of fifth spot.

On Saturday, leaders Paris Saint-Germain coasted past Rennes 3-1 and second-placed Monaco kept pace with an equally comfortable 2-0 win at Guingamp.

PSG lead their Cote d'Azur rivals by two points with Lille two further back after 18 matches and just one more fixture before the winter break.

PSG host Lille next Sunday at the Parc des Princes while Monaco are at home to Valenciennes two days earlier in the first game of the weekend slate.

Fourth-placed Nantes crumbled 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Saturday, Nice kept Sochaux at the bottom with a 1-0 home win and Lorient defeated Ajaccio 2-1 in Corsica.

Finally, Evian and Reims finished 1-1 and Montpellier's first league game under new coach Rolland Courbis finished in a 1-0 home defeat against seventh-placed Saint-Etienne.

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‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”