Lille, the leader of the French Championship, lost two points in the race for the title by drawing a draw at home against Montpellier (1-1), Friday April 16 at the opening of the 33e Ligue 1 day.
In lack of efficiency during most of the meeting, LOSC finally managed to equalize by Luiz Araujo, who came into play shortly before, in the 85e minute. The Hérault, solid and efficient, opened the scoring early in the match with Andy Delort after a great collective action (21e).
If the Mastiffs are sure to keep their leader’s chair at the end of the weekend, they have grilled a wild card and will now have to perform flawlessly to be sure of winning the league title. They have indeed offered the opportunity to their three pursuers, Paris, Monaco and Lyon, to close the gap. By winning, the latter would return respectively to one, two and three lengths of the Northerners.
The Montpellier, very disciplined in defense and sharp in cons, chained a 14e match without defeat (including the Coupe de France) and remain in the race for European places (8e, 47 points).
LOSC lacked realism
A week after a very sluggish victory in Metz (2-0), Lille showed a marked improvement in the quality of play, especially in the second half, but they did not have the realism and success that had accompanied them at the Stade Saint-Symphorien, like this strike on the post of Benjamin André (57e).
After a first big opportunity in Montpellier, a free kick from Téji Savanier narrowly pushed back by Mike Maignan at the near post (3e), Lille has multiplied the situations but lacked realism.
Thus, Burak Yilmaz lost a duel against Jonas Omlin by shooting aside (4e), Jonathan Ikoné stumbled over the MHSC goalkeeper in an ideal position (15e), then Jonathan Bamba forgot to serve Yilmaz back to attempt a crushed strike that was countered (18e).
Despite the monopoly of the ball, the Mastiffs will be punished for their ineffectiveness: Jordan Ferri destabilized the northerner defense by delivering a superb pass in the back of Reinildo for Gaëtan Laborde, whose center was taken from a diving header at close range by Delort who registered his 12e league goal of the season (0-1, 21e).
A tight title race
After the opening of the score of the Héraultais, the LOSC continued its sterile domination and struggled even more to be dangerous against a very well organized and dangerous opposing bloc in transition, in particular thanks to the untenable Stephy Mavididi, who did not however failed to deceive Maignan on a curled shot (42e).
After the break, the Northerners accelerated but failed to pierce the solid defense of Montpellier, despite the injury of the Portuguese Pedro Mendes (53e), hit in the left knee and came out in tears to give way to veteran Vitorino Hilton, author of a convincing entry, marked in particular by a nice rescue in front of Jonathan David (72e).
The return to the hour mark of the Canadian striker from Lille, who recovered much faster than expected from a sprained ankle, gave more impetus to Lille’s offensive animation. He notably used Omlin with a nice strike (81e), a few minutes after a parade by the porter on a distant shot from Xeka (76e).
The good coaching of Christophe Galtier and the efforts made by the Mastiffs ended up paying off since it was another entrant, Araujo, who distinguished himself by scoring with a nice strike from the outside of the foot (1-1, 85e). Lille pushed in extra time, but had to settle for a draw. A week before a crucial trip to Lyon, the fight for the title is more close than ever.