Lyon end year top of Ligue 1 as Lille, PSG stay within a point

PARIS (AFP) – Lyon cruised past Nantes 3-0 on Wednesday to take top spot in Ligue 1 heading into the winter break from Lille, despite Burak Yilmaz’s late strike earning the previous leaders victory at Montpellier.

Rudi Garcia’s Lyon lead Lille on goal difference, by just one goal, with reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) one point further adrift after thrashing Strasbourg 4-0 at the Parc des Princes.

It is the first time Lyon have been top at Christmas since the 2008/09 season, when their run of seven straight titles was ultimately ended by Bordeaux.

“This rewards a fairly exceptional 2020 even with the league cut short in the spring,” said Garcia, whose side missed out on European qualification after last season’s Ligue 1 campaign was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We also played a League Cup final, a French Cup semi-final and a Champions League semi-final. Now we need to come back healthy after the holidays.

“With this pandemic, the players had better be careful.”

Lyon’s Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet vies with Nantes’ French forward Marcud Coco at the Groupama stadium in Decines-Charpieu near Lyon. PHOTO: AFP

Lyon usurped Lille at the summit after a ruthless first-half display against managerless Nantes.

Karl Toko Ekambi put the hosts on their way in the fourth minute at Groupama Stadium and in-form Zimbabwe striker Tino Kadewere netted his seventh goal of the season seven minutes before the interval.

There was still time for former AC Milan midfielder Lucas Paqueta to put the result beyond any doubt on the stroke of half-time with the goal that put Lyon above Lille.

In the capital, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel made five changes from the side which drew 0-0 with Lille at the weekend, with Kylian Mbappe fit to start after recovering from a muscle injury.

PSG dominated the early stages, with Mbappe having a penalty appeal waved away, before teenage defender Timothee Pembele pounced in the 18th minute to score his first Ligue 1 goal after Angel Di Maria’s shot was saved.

The home side failed to turn their possession into a two-goal lead before half-time, though, as Rafinha had an effort well saved by Strasbourg goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.