Lyon’s Champions League hopes fading fast after 1-1 draw
PARIS (AP) — At this rate Lyon won’t have long to wait before bidding farewell to next season’s Champions League, drawing 1-1 at Montpellier on Sunday to make it six league games without a win.
Three losses and three draws during that spell have destroyed any momentum gained after beating league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Jan. 21. Lyon is now five points behind third-place Marseille, and nine behind second-place Monaco.
Belgian forward Isaac Mbenza put sixth-place Montpellier ahead in the seventh minute after a neat passing move opened up Lyon’s defense.
Jonathan Ikone moved the ball wide right to fullback Ruben Aguilar and his fast cross to the back post was turned in by Mbenza.
Lyon went close to equalizing in the 39th minute when striker Mariano Diaz hit the crossbar with a powerful header from a corner.
Diaz scored with his next chance, however, equalizing in the 58th with his 16th goal in 27 league games after joining from Real Madrid. Midfielder Houssem Aouar made the difference with a run down the left, cutting inside three defenders and squaring the ball for Diaz to score from close range.
PSG rested several key players in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Troyes. PSG, which is 14 points ahead of Monaco with 10 games left, hosts Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. PSG trails 3-1 from the first leg.
MARSEILLE HELD BY NANTES
Having conceded six goals in four days and two matches against Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille nearly slumped to a fourth consecutive loss in all competitions. But Florian Thauvin salvaged one point for the hosts with an equalizer deep in stoppage time that secured a 1-1 draw with Nantes.
Marseille, which lost to Braga in the Europa League last week and was beaten twice by rival PSG in the league and the French Cup, remains in third place, four points behind Monaco.
Marseille dominated possession in the first half but was caught cold at the Velodrome stadium when the highly rated Leo Dubois beat Steve Mandanda with a powerful and precise shot from outside the box.
Marseille pushed hard and created several good chances in the final half-hour but lacked a cutting edge until Thauvin netted his 16th goal this season from close range following a scramble in the box.
Caen moved up a place into 12th spot after scoring in each half in a 2-0 home win against Strasbourg.
Powerful striker Enzo Crivelli gave the Normandy side the lead in the 43rd minute, shooting from inside the penalty area after swapping passes with midfielder Stef Peeters.
Defender Frederic Guilbert scored a fine second goal in the 87th.
He won the ball in his own half, sprinted up the pitch, passed the ball to midfielder Ismael Diomande on the right and volleyed home Diomande’s return pass.