Lady Luck smiles on leaders
OL were defending their first place on the ladder. They are in action before their other rivals for the top three, or even the title (PSG, ASSE, OM…). OL had won their last five Ligue 1 matches, including two in a row away from home. The Racing Club de Lens are trying to settle their budget problems. They also need points to climb out of the relegation zone. They two sides have already met twice this season: Lens won at the Stade de Gerland (the only team to have earned a point there this term!) and OL eliminated Les Sang et Or in the Rd-of-64 of the Coupe de France in Calais…
Hubert Fournier was without his Africans (Bedimo, Zeffane, NJie, Yattara, B. Koné). Bisevac remained behind in Lyon (hamstring) along with Grenier, Benzia and Fofana. That saw Lindsay Rose return in central defence. Otherwise, it was unchanged with Ghezzal at the top of the midfield diamond. Les Sang et Or are without Lemoigne, Baal and Touzghar. Antoine Kombouaré chose to play with two up front. Landre pulled out after the warm-up…
Les Lensois made an excellent start to the match, creating two clear-cup scoring chances in the opening three minutes! The challenges were robust! Fekir forced Riou into action with a dangerous cross and then a shot. Fekir looked good raising down the left flank. It was a lively match, despite the difficult conditions. OL stepped higher up the pitch after sitting deep in the opening 15 minutes. A Fekir cross, from the right this time, saw the seven-time French champions open the scoring when a series of mistakes ended up in an own goal! And then another mistake, from Sylla, provided a penalty that Lacazette put away. OL had taken their chances… Ghezzal went on a mazy run. And Fekir sent a missile just wide of Riou's goal. Finally, Lopes was called upon to tackle clear a Jalley backpass... Les Sang et Or were out of luck, both in attack and in defence...
It was a blistering start to the second half with the ball racing from one end to the other, including a fantastic attack led by and Fekir and Lacazette… OL were solid. RC Lens switched to a 3-5-2 formation just before the hour mark. OL looked dangerous on the counter, well structured around their captain, Maxime Gonalons. Lopes produced an important save to deny Chavarria (66'). Fekir weaved his magic to get past Boulanger (70') before being denied by Riou. Dabo and Lopes combined to deny Lens a certain goal. The Northerners were right out of luck. OL stood firm and united, like when Tolisso produced a great tackle to stop Madiani. Lens pushed hard, but in vain.
OL recorded a sixth win in a row in Ligue 1 and continue on their merry way... The pressure is now on the chasing pack not to drop points and fall further behind! OL took full advantage of Lens' mistakes to make the game safe early on - the sign of a side high on confidence. They showed their collective spirit in difficult conditions and can still count on the exceptional Lopes in goal. 45 points from 21 matches… it's a record that bodes very well for the future...
In Amiens, Stade de la Licorne, 11,000 spectateurs; Referee, Mr Delerue. RC Lens 0-2 OL (H-T: RC Lens 0-2 OL).
RC Lens: Riou – Sylla (Guillaume 55'), Gbamin, Kantari (c), Boulenger – Bourigeaud (Cyprien 84'), Nomenjanahary, Valdivia, El-Jadeyaoui (Madiani 67') – Coulibaly, Chavarria. Coach: Kombouaré.
OL: Lopes – Jallet, Rose, Umtiti, Dabo (Mvuemba 76') – Gonalons (c), Ferri (Malbranque 89'), Tolisso, Ghezzal (Gourcuff 86') – Lacazette, Fekir. Coach: Fournier.Goals: Gbamin o.g 22', Lacazette pen. 25'