PARIS (Reuters) – Olympique Lyon were held to a goalless home draw by Olympique Marseille which left them four points behind leaders Paris St Germain at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday.
The uninspired hosts dominated possession but never really threatened OM goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, waiting more than an hour to record their first attempt on target.
The visitors had their chances in the first half but striker Andre-Pierre Gignac lacked a cutting edge.
Lyon stayed second with 53 points from 28 games, four behind PSG who defeated bottom club Nancy on Saturday thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 23rd and 24th league goals.
Marseille occupy the third and final Champions League qualifying berth on 50, two more than fourth-placed St Etienne and fifth-ranked Nice who beat seventh-placed Montpellier 2-0.
"We try to follow PSG but also to move forward thinking about ourselves," Lyon’s coach Remi Garde told French channel Canal Plus.
"We can’t have any regrets tonight because we gave everything we could in terms of intensity, we put heart."
His Marseille counterpart also reckoned the game had been hard-fought but was not entertaining.
"We were very solid defensively, very serious. It was a battle, like a European Cup tie," Elie Baup said.
"We only need to be more efficient to score goals."
The game was nothing like the teams’ previous encounters, which had created expectations with an average of 4.4 goals in the last eight matches between the sides.
Marseille had the first chance after 10 minutes but Gignac’s curling shoot from the left went narrowly wide. He wasted two more opportunities in the first half while Lyon were labouring to even come close to the area.
The home team upped the pace after the break but Mandanda had little work until left back Samuel Umtiti tried his chances from long-range in the 68th minute.
Lyon pushed hard for a goal but Marseille went closer to breaking the deadlock five minutes later with from Andre Ayew’s header following a corner.
In the day’s early kick-off, Nice proved far more efficient as 20-year-old Stephane Bahoken celebrated his maiden Ligue 1 start with two goals to boost his side’s Champions League bid.
Bahoken, who had not featured in a league game since September and had made only 10 league appearances since his debut two years ago, put the home team ahead in the 12th minute from close range.
He doubled the lead 12 minutes later, tapping the ball in after Luigi Bruins hit the post.
"Obviously, it’s been a great reaction after (last weekend’s 4-0 loss at) St Etienne. It was important to show that it was just a mishap," Nice’s coach Claude Puel told reporters.
Bahoken, who suffered a broken fibula during training in October and served a three-game ban shortly after returning to action with the reserve team, enjoyed his unexpected chance.
"Before the game, I never thought it would have gone this way," said the forward, the latest example of Nice’s successful youth policy after the 16-year-old Neal Maupay who has made 14 appearances and scored three goals in Ligue 1.
Girondins Bordeaux, who host Benfica in a Europa League last 16 second-leg on Thursday, ended their four-game losing run by beating Bastia 1-0 at home. They are 10th on 41.
(Additional reporting by Etienne Ballerini in Nice; Editing by Ed Osmond)
- Lyon drop first points with Evian stalemate
- Ajax eye knockout stages after stalemate in Lyon
- Fofana scores as Lyon move three clear of PSG
- New date set for wind-delayed Marseille-Lyon
- OM should send a message against Lyon, says Fanni