PARIS — Leader Lille paid the price for poor defending in a 2-1 loss to relegation-threatened Nimes, opening the door for Lyon or Paris Saint-Germain to take top spot in the French league ahead of their match later Sunday.
Whoever wins will go first on goal difference, but a draw would keep Lille two points ahead with eight games left in the closest title race for many years.
“We didn’t play well. There are no excuses, we just weren’t in the game,” Lille captain Jose Fonte told broadaster Canal Plus. “It’s not about pressure, that’s the same for everyone, it’s more about attitude … When you don’t defend as a team things become difficult.”
Lille has only conceded 19 goals in 30 games but were sloppy this time. Coach Christophe Galtier warned his players not to take struggling Nimes lightly, but they could not prevent a third defeat of the season.
The visitors took an 11th-minute lead through striker Moussa Kone’s powerful shot into the top corner after Lille lost the ball on the edge of the penalty area.
Midfielder Xeka equalized with a downward header from a corner in the 20th.
Galtier’s fears resurfaced when striker Renaud Ripart made a great run behind the defense and deftly flicked the ball past goalkeeper Mike Maignan on halftime.
Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz thought he’d equalized early in the second half with a fine finish, but it was ruled offside following a video review.
Yilmaz headed straight at goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet in the last minute and Reynet kept out an injury-time effort from Renato Sanches.
Later Sunday, Neymar was back in PSG’s squad five weeks after tearing a left adductor muscle.
EUROPE IN MIND
Lens moved three points clear in fifth place and a Europa League spot after winning 2-1 at Strasbourg.
Midfielder Massadio Haidara put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute, and playmaker Seko Fofana restored the lead shortly before halftime after midfielder Jean-Ricner Bellegarde equalized.
Nantes followed up its unexpected win at PSG last weekend by drawing 1-1 at home to Lorient in their relegation fight.
After scoring against PSG, striker Randal Kolo Muani put Nantes ahead in the first minute but forward Armand Lauriente equalized near the end with a stunning 40-meter free kick into the top right corner.
Lorient is 17th, Nimes 18th and Nantes 19th.
South Korea striker Hwang Ui-jo’s early goal turned out to be Bordeaux’s consolation in a 3-1 defeat at eighth-place Montpellier.
Last-place Dijon lost 1-0 at home to Reims and is 13 points behind Nantes, while Brest drew 0-0 with midtable Angers.