Champions Lille kept themselves in the Ligue 1 title race with victory at relegation-threatened Dijon this evening in a match which saw three players sent off. LOSC were a player down from the 36th minute, when Idrissa Gueye was sent off for violent conduct, but the visitors made light of their numerical disadvantage and notched twice before half-time through Rio Mavuba and Eden Hazard to seal the points.
Dijon defender Abdoulaye Meite evened up the numbers when he too was dismissed for violent conduct in the first minute of the second half and Bennard Yao Kumordzi followed suit 13 minutes from time - putting paid to the hosts' hopes of getting anything from the game.
The result was a fourth win in five games for Lille, and kept them seven points behind Montpellier with five games remaining following the leaders' 1-0 win over Valenciennes, while Dijon were left in 16th place and only a point above the drop zone.
Joe Cole was inches away from giving the visitors the lead in style in the third minute, the England midfielder latching on to Nolan Roux's pass and dispatching a shot on the turn just wide of the top-left corner. Hazard too went close early on, beating Samuel Souprayen down the left and cutting into the area before unleashing a shot which drifted just wide of the bottom-right corner.
Despite their early pressure, Rudi Garcia's side almost went behind in the 12th minute. Eric Bautheac found Brice Jovia, whose left-footed shot beat Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau but Franck Beria was in the right place to clear off the line. Lille's Mathieu Debuchy nearly caught Baptiste Reynet out with a cross-shot from out wide, the Dijon keeper looking on helplessly as the ball flew just over the bar.
Gueye was shown a straight red card nine minutes before the break following a tackle from behind on Jovial, but Lille's ten men nevertheless forged ahead three minutes later. Hazard picked out Mavuba, whose first-time show into the top corner gave Reynet no chance.
The clinching goal arrived on the stroke of half-time and again Hazard was at the heart of it. He controlled on the left side of the area before placing a sweet shot with the inside of his right foot beyond Reynet and into the bottom corner.
Meite's dismissal moments after the restart for a clumsy challenge on Roux ensured it was ten versus ten for most of the second period but, after a frenetic first half, the match tempo slowed and there were no further goals.
Dijon twice went close in the space of a minute, Koro Kone lashing over from a promising position following Bautheac's free-kick and then Benjamin Corgnet shooting straight at Landreau from just inside the area. The home team's frustration boiled over 13 minutes from time when Bennard Yao Kumordzi was sent off from a tackle from behind on Hazard.