Leaders Lille ease past 10-man Nice, while PSG remain hot on their heels with only three round of matches to play.
Burak Yilmaz and Zeki Celik scored as Lille maintained their one-point lead at the top of the table over defending champions Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. The current league leaders defeated 10-man Nice 2-0 on Saturday, with only three games left in the season. Lille needed the three points on Saturday to go atop the table as earlier in the day, PSG had beaten Lens 2-1 to move temporarily to the summit.
Nice played most of the second half with a man short after defender Jordan Lotomba was shown a red card. Earlier, veteran striker Yilmaz, 35 continued his impressive run. He played a crucial role in Lille coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Lyon last weekend. Yilmaz was once again the catalyst as Christophe Galtier’s side responded perfectly after PSG had won their match earlier on Saturday.
The league leaders got off to a perfect start when Yilmaz scored from 20 metres following a Jonathan David lay-off on 13 minutes. His hot streak continued in the second half as well when he was only denied by the post.
Things took a turn for the worse for Nice as Lotomba was shown a second yellow for a foul on Jonathan Bamba at the beginning of the second half. Soon after Celik latched onto a clearance and volleyed in from just outside the box in the 56th minute to double the advantage.
Lille’s final three matches are against Lens, Saint-Etienne and Angers. If they win their remaining games, they will be the league champions for the first time since 2011.
“Three points, a clean sheet, it’s good,” captain Jose Fonte told broadcaster Canal+. “It was important to win at home because we hadn’t won here for a while, and the battles go on. We have three difficult games left and we just need to keep fighting.”
All PSG can do now is win their matches and wait for a slip-up from the league leaders. On Saturday, the Paris club did just that. Neymar scored one goal and set up the other for Marquinhos as PSG got past Lens at home. Now, their focus for time being will switch to the second leg of the Champions League semifinal against Manchester City.
Mauricio Pochettino made six changes to his team from the first leg defeat against Pep Guardiola’s side. Notably, Kylian Mbappe was in the stands due to a slight calf injury.
Pochettino remained confident that Mbappe would be fit for the second leg in Manchester on Tuesday. “I am always optimistic and I still am,” he told Canal+. “We think he will be there but we will make a decision before the game.”