Licka leveller a blow for Lyon
A scorching half-volley by Czech midfielder Marcel Licka earned Brest a 1-1 draw at home with Lyon today that damaged the visitors' hopes of securing UEFA Champions League qualification.
Third-placed Lyon, humiliated 4-0 by Auxerre in their previous outing, were bidding to pull four points clear of nearest rivals Paris Saint-Germain. They were only able to extend their advantage by another point, however, meaning that defeated Coupe de France finalists PSG can assume pole position in the race for a Champions League place if they win at Bordeaux on Wednesday.
Failure to secure third place would mean Claude Puel's side miss out on a place in Europe's premier cup competition after 12 successive participations. Brest, meanwhile, climbed into 15th place, two points above the relegation zone with two matches remaining - away at Auxerre and then at home to Toulouse on the season's final day.
"We dominated but rushed our final pass," said Lyon coach Puel. "It is a pity because we needed that second goal to put us out of sight and then their goal came out of nowhere. It is punishing, but we need to be more consistent, and now it is imperative we battle to the end to secure this third place."
Brazilian attacking midfielder Ederson, preferred to his compatriot Michel Bastos in the starting XI, opened the scoring for Lyon in the 15th minute by glancing home a near-post header from Miralem Pjanic's left-wing corner.
Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris preserved his side's lead early in the second period, denying Bruno Grougi with a sprawling save after the Brest midfielder latched onto a knockdown in the visitors' area.
Pjanic came close to extending his side's lead shortly after the hour, with a deflected drive from the edge of the box that skidded narrowly wide of the left-hand post. Licka delivered his sucker-punch in the 76th minute, the 28-year-old adjusting himself brilliantly to fire a magnificent half-volley into the top-right corner from 22 yards.
It could have been even worse for Lyon, but Lloris produced a full-stretch save to prevent Cris putting through his own goal with ten minutes to play.
Second-placed Marseille's 2-2 draw at Lorient yesterday means that Lille can effectively secure victory in the title race with a win at home to Sochaux in Wednesday's other match. A win would put Rudi Garcia's side six points clear with two games remaining. The leaders also possess a goal difference that is seven superior to Marseille's.
Lens were relegated yesterday, joining rock-bottom Arles-Avignon in Ligue 2 after a 1-1 draw at Monaco.