Lyon goes back to the top after 4-2 win away to Reims
PARIS (AP) — Alexandre Lacazette scored a league-leading 26th goal of the season as Lyon returned to the top of the French league on goal difference from Paris Saint-Germain after a 4-2 win at Reims on Sunday.
Lyon, which has played a game more than PSG, raced 2-0 ahead as midfielder Corentin Tolisso netted his seventh goal of the season when he headed in from a corner in the second minute, and Lacazette pounced four minutes later with a volley from Cameroonian winger Clinton N’jie’s cross.
Midfielder Alexi Peuget gave the home side hope when he pulled a goal back with a deflected strike in the 13th, but Lyon reasserted its authority when N’jie expertly turned in left back Henri Bedimo’s cross to make it 3-1 after 20 minutes of a frantic opening spell.
Defender Mickael Tacalfred’s lobbed his own goalkeeper as he tried to intercept a pass to make in the 90th minute to put Lyon 4-1 up, before Gaetan Charbonnier netted an injury-time consolation goal from a corner.
“We have to savor this win because it will count at the end,” club captain Maxime Gonalons said. “In terms of how we played we can do better, but winning 4-2 away from home is satisfying.”
Two-time defending champion PSG can move three points ahead if it beats struggling Metz on Tuesday night, where it will look to chip away at Lyon’s superior goal difference of + 39 compared to + 35.
Even though Lyon remains very much in title contention, the team’s performance dipped notably in the second half.
“We have to do much better if we want to become a big team,” Lacazette said. “We have to control games better.”
Earlier, teenage forward Anthony Martial continued his scoring form with his seventh goal in eight games as Monaco eased to a 3-0 win at last-place Lens to remain third.
Saint-Etienne kept the pressure on with a 1-0 win over Montpellier but Monaco is two points ahead of fourth-place Saint-Etienne with four games remaining in the chase for a Champions League spot.
Monaco was knocked out of the Champions League by Juventus in midweek — losing 1-0 on aggregate in a hard-fought quarterfinal — but has good momentum heading into the French league’s home stretch.
“We knew it was an important game, a difficult game for us given the context,” midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia said, referring to Lens’ relegation battle. “We went out of the Champions League, but this is a different competition and we still have our objectives in the league.”
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored Monaco’s first in the 36th minute, skipping past two players and thumping a powerful shot into the top left corner, and then set up Martial with a superb pass with the outside of this foot moments before halftime. The 19-year-old Martial did the rest, collecting the ball in his path, advancing inside the area and placing a clinical low shot under the body of goalkeeper Rudy Riou.
Bernardo Silva has been Monaco’s other form player in recent weeks, and the Portuguese midfielder made it four in three games with a close-range finish in the 72nd after good work from Martial down the left.
Lens is 12 points away from safety with the league’s worst goal difference, and only has a remote chance of staying up if it wins all of four remaining games with resounding wins.
Ivory Coast winger Max-Alain Gradel scored his eighth goal in eight games as Saint-Etienne extended its unbeaten run to nine league games and moved three points clear of fifth-place Marseille.
Coach Christophe Galtier has not given up hope of overtaking Monaco.
“We’re four games from the end and the podium is within sight,” Galtier said. “We’ll give everything.”
PSG routed Lille 6-1 at home on Saturday, while Marseille lost 5-3 at home to Lorient on Friday.