The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Lille misses chance to move into second place after losing 2-1 at home against Reims
PARIS - Lille missed the chance to move into second place in the French league as it slipped to a 2-1 home loss against Reims on Sunday.
Right winger Odair Fortes scored with a fortuitous deflected shot in the 73rd minute and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak made it 2-0 three minutes later when he headed in at the back post. Third-place Lille replied in the 89th when centre half Anthony Weber headed into his own net.
"They're third in the league for a reason, so we had to be strong," Reims coach Hubert Fournier said. "In the second half we played a bit faster and we got the luck we needed to win the game. The players deserve all the credit because they gave so much out there."
Lille impressed when it drew 2-2 away to Paris Saint-Germain last month in the final match before the winter break, but this time it failed to shine against a well-organized Reims team which climbed up to seventh spot.
"We didn't make a good start and couldn't get into a rhythm," Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba said. "They made the most of it so congratulations to Reims."
Lille's defeat and Monaco's 1-1 draw at Montpellier on Friday night played into the hands of French leader PSG, which now leads Monaco by five points and Lille by seven.
Saint-Etienne is in fourth place and Marseille is fifth after winning 2-1 at Evian on Sunday, with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring his sixth goal in the past five games.
"We're very happy because this win is good for us in terms of points and it's a good start to 2014 for us," Marseille coach Jose Anigo said. "It's a good result. Did we play well or not? It's up to the fans or the media to judge. We came here for three points and we got them."
Pape Amodou Sougou, who is on loan from Marseille this season, scored for Evian in the 15th minute with a looping header from Cedric Barbosa's corner.
But the lead was short-lived as veteran midfielder Benoit Cheyrou equalized in the 22nd with a powerful strike from 25 metres out, and Gignac continued his recent good form to give Marseille the lead in the 38th with his ninth league goal of the season.
Cheyrou and forward Saber Khalifa — who joined Marseille from Evian in the off-season — combined to release Florian Thauvin inside the penalty area and his cross was headed in by Gignac.
Khalifa hit the crossbar with a shot from just outside the penalty area early in the second half, and Gignac saw his header drift over in the 66th and then volleyed just wide from Thauvin's cross in the 72nd as Marseille went close to a third goal.
But the visitors had goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to thank as he kept out a powerful header from Evian's Daniel Wass in the 82nd.
Earlier, Ismael Bangoura scored as sixth-placed Nantes beat Lorient 1-0.
"That's what happens when you don't take your chances. Nantes gave everything in the last few minutes and got rewarded for it," Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff said. "But in terms of how we played we're on the right track. We played better than in some of our recent wins."
PSG won 2-1 at Ajaccio in Saturday's games to profit from Monaco's slip.
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