Lille boosted their hopes of a UEFA Europa League spot - and dented Rennes' European ambitions - with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole this evening. Rennes defender Chrys Mavinga put through his own net after 24 minutes to hand the hosts the initiative, with Dimitri Payet's goal just after the hour mark clinching the three points for Lille.
The result lifted Rudi Garcia's side to eighth in the Ligue 1 standings - three points behind their fifth-placed opponents. The visitors, who entered the match on a four-game unbeaten run, started brightly with Mevlut Erding latching onto Julien Feret's pass and testing Steeve Elana with a low right-footed shot which the Lille goalkeeper did well to block.
The same duo linked up again soon after with Erding supplying Feret for a header which was deflected to safety via the thigh of Franck Beria. Lille took the lead, though, from their first attack of note against the run of play. Salomon Kalou burst down the left and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot which was pushed away by Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil but only as far as Ronny Rodelin, whose fierce low effort hit Mavinga - on the ground - before going in.
Rennes continued on the front foot for the rest of the first half despite the setback, but could not find the equaliser. The closest they came was when Feret's 20-yard free-kick skimmed the right post on its way wide. The visitors suffered a further blow before the interval when the influential Romain Alessandrini sustained a knee injury and had to be replaced by Abdoulaye Sane.
Lille came out for the second period showing no mercy on their visitors, though. Rodelin's blast was cleared off the line by Jean Kana Biyik after Costil had only partially cleared Payet's corner in the 56th minute. And, just after the hour, they had their second goal. Marvin Martin released Kalou down the right, and the former Chelsea forward crossed for Payet to send a diving header past Costil at the near post.
Costil had to be alert to keep the score down to 2-0 in the closing stages, producing a fine save to keep out a Marko Basa header. He then looked on helplessly as Kalou's curling right-footed attempt brushed the frame of the goal on its way over in stoppage time. The third goal was not forthcoming but Lille had already done enough to secure victory on the night.