After keeping Barcelona’s mighty attack quiet during the week, Lyon succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Monaco on Sunday that hampers its chances of qualifying automatically for next season’s Champions League.
Third-placed Lyon is five points behind Lille in second and only three points ahead of fourth-placed Saint-Etienne with 12 games remaining. Lyon held Lionel Messi’s Barcelona to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League match, but went 2-0 down inside the first 30 minutes at Stade Louis II on Sunday.
Portugal winger Gelson Martins scored his third goal in four league games since joining Monaco near the end of last month’s transfer window, putting Monaco ahead in the 18th minute with a fine turn and shot from the edge of the penalty area.
His international teammate Rony Lopes made it 2-0 in the 26th with a determined effort. The attacking midfielder won the ball in midfield, held off two Lyon players as they chased him and finished with a neat low shot past another countryman in goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Monaco has won three and drawn one in the league since Leonardo Jardim took charge, after being fired to make way for Thierry Henry and then reinstated. His side is now easing away from relegation trouble and is in 16th spot.
Reims won 4-2 at Montpellier to move level on points with fifth-placed Marseille.
Montpellier proudly boasted the second-best defensive record in the league before losing 5-1 at league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday. Now make that nine goals conceded in two games after only allowing 25 in the previous 24.
Montpellier dropped down to seventh place as its defense fell apart again with forward Remi Oudin scoring twice as Reims recovered from conceding an early goal.
Marseille did enough to stay fifth on goal difference after scraping a 1-1 draw at Rennes, thanks to forward Valere Germain’s first league goal since late September. He headed home in the 56th minute after midfielder Benjamin Andre gave the home side a seventh-minute lead.
In other games, Nantes beat Bordeaux 1-0 and strugglers Toulouse and Caen drew 1-1.
BOOST FOR NANTES
Nantes moved up to 14th place after center half Nicolas Pallois volleyed home from a corner in the 51st minute.
Pallois was close friends with Emiliano Sala and attended the Argentine striker’s funeral last weekend. Sala died at the age of 28 when the plane he was in crashed into the English Channel last month. The single-engine aircraft was flying from Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was due to start a new career playing for the Welsh capital’s Premier League club.
Pallois and Sala played together for second-tier Niort during the 2013-14 season and at the start of the following season for Bordeaux. They became teammates again when Pallois left Bordeaux to join Sala at Nantes two years ago.
Kylian Mbappe starred again as runaway league leader PSG beat Nimes 3-0 at home on Saturday to move 17 points clear of Lille, having played one less game.
The 20-year-old France star scored twice to become the youngest player to reach 50 league goals in French soccer history.