Lyon spend Christmas on the podium with OM win
Olympique Lyonnais are all but guaranteed to spend the winter break in third after beating nearest challengers Olympique de Marseille 2-0, with Nabil Fekir (6') and Mariano Diaz (51') on target at Groupama Stadium.
Olympique Lyonnais 2-0 Olympique de Marseille
Lyon hosted Marseille with only goal-difference separating the Bruno Génésio's side in third from their visitors in fourth, and they got off to a stunning start. OL captain Fekir launched a distant free-kick towards the OM goal after a handball from André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and his opposite number Steve Mandanda made a hash of his save, with the ball creeping in despite the 'keeper getting a hand to it (6'). Marseille came close to restoring parity less than ten minutes later following a Dimitri Payet corner, put Anthony Lopes saved Adil Rami's header before Florian Thauvin flashed the rebound over the bar (14'). A Rolando foul on Fekir presented the latter with another free-kick inside the half-hour. The range was the same as the opening goal, but the outcome was not, with Rolando making amends clearing at the back post (27'). Rolando had a chance at the other end minutes later, but after getting on the end of a Payet cross he headed over (32').
Two minutes into the second half and it looked like Lyon were going to go two goals clear with just two shots on target, but Kenny Tete was pulled back for offside (47'). Les Gones' disappointment was short-lived, though, with Mariano getting on the end of Maxwel Cornet's chipped cross to fire home his 13th goal of the current Ligue 1 Conforama campaign (51'). With the game running away from him, Marseille coach Rudi Garcia brought on Kostas Mitroglou, Maxime Lopez and Morgan Sanson over a ten-minute spell from the hour mark in an attempt to turn the tide, but the best chance the visitors could muster fell to defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who, after winning back possession, saw a shot from distance blocked by Marcelo (81').
THE PLAYER: Mariano Diaz
Only Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao have scored more goals than Mariano since the Dominican swapped Real Madrid for Lyon in the summer. Born in Spain to a Dominican mother, Diaz turned out once for the Dominican Republic in 2013, in a friendly against Haiti. He subsequently called time on that particular international career. Now, in a FIFA World Cup year and in the form of his life, that decision could prove particularly shrewd. On current form, he should join the 2010 winners in Russia next summer.
THE STAT: 11
Lyon are undefeated in 11 of their last 12 matches in Ligue 1 Conforama. Eighth in Week 8, Les Gones have clicked into gear in recent months and although there is still half a season to go, they look like overwhelming favourites to join Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco in UEFA Champions League contention.