Lille stumble with draw at Lorient
© AFP

Ligue 1 leaders Lille could only manage a 1-1 draw at Lorient this evening to hand the initiative to French League Cup champions Marseille in the Ligue 1 title race.

Mathieu Debuchy's strike against the run of play two minutes before half-time had looked set to give Lille a four-point cushion at the summit, with Marseille due to play their game in hand at home to Nice on Wednesday.

However, Kevin Gameiro equalised midway through the second half at the Stade du Moustoir to leave Rudi Garcia's side with just a two-point advantage, having picked up only two points from the last nine on offer.

The visitors created the first chance of the game, the excellent Fabien Audard keeping out Moussa Sow's low drive in the fifth minute, but from then on in the first half it was one-way traffic in the other direction.

Gameiro beat the Lille offside trap and fired against the post in the 12th minute with Mickael Landreau beaten, and the Lille goalkeeper got down well to block an Alaixys Romao blast two minutes later. Sigamary Diarra then swooped on a poor clearance by defender Adil Rami and quickly released Arnold Mvuemba, but again Landreau was in the way.

Debuchy deflected a fierce Gameiro attempt away for a corner midway through the half, with Landreau then saving a Morgan Amalfitano effort before punching clear with Gameiro in close attendance as the hosts continued to pepper their visitors' goal.

However, when the deadlock was finally broken it somehow came at the other end, Debuchy lashing an unstoppable volley into the roof of Audard's net from Sow's left-wing cross two minutes before the break.

Gameiro volleys Lorient level
Lorient continued undeterred after the interval, Diarra releasing Gameiro with a long ball only for the striker to direct his low shot too close to Landreau. The richly-deserved equaliser arrived in the 69th minute, Amalfitano's header teeing up Gameiro at the near post and his superb volley gave Landreau no chance.

That seemed to spur Lille into action, and it was they who created the better chances to dominate in the final quarter. Substitute Pierre-Alain Frau freed Gervinho, but the Ivorian forward's control let him down with only Audard to beat and the Lorient keeper swooped on the ball.

Frau then tried his luck with a right-footed volley two minutes from time, but again Audard was equal to it as he made sure the hosts picked up a point they more than merited.