OL take three points in Toulouse, stay third
By S. Willis
Olympique Lyonnais head into the winter break locked on 41 points with second-placed Monaco after clinching a 2-1 win in Toulouse that featured a late flurry of goals after Nabil Fekir's first-half opener from the spot.
Toulouse FC 1 - 2 Olympique Lyonnais
With the rest of the top four teams clocking wins, Olympique Lyonnais' hopes of pipping Monaco to second and cutting Paris Saint-Germain's nine-point lead were dashed, but Bruno Genesio's men nonetheless took care of business in Toulouse and kept things neck-and-neck with the principality club heading into the winter break.
In fact, had Ivorian forward Max-Alain Gradel not struck a penalty deep into injury time (90'+6), OL would have gone ahead of Monaco thanks to their head-to-head goal difference advantage accrued in the 3-2 Week 9 win (they would have had the same overall goal difference and number of goals scored).
However, OL boss Bruno Genesio won't be complaining, given that his side struggled to create chances despite largely dominating play, especially in the first half. It took a penalty for the visitors to make the break, captain Nabil Fekir stroking home from the spot for his 13th of the season after Mariano Diaz was fouled in the area (24', pen.).
Toulouse hit back with chances before the break, with Anthony Lopes called on to deny Wergiton Somalia from close range (36') before Christopher Jullien got a header on target but without the power to trouble the OL glovesman (44').
OL quash fightback
The second half was much more in Toulouse's favour, Pascal Dupraz's men laying siege to the OL goal for long stretches and creating chances for Andy Delort (52') and Gradel (59') before Delort crashed a header off the post with the ever-dangerous Gradel seeing his follow-up denied by an opportune tackle (82').
Lyon weren't done, however, and looked to consolidate their lead with a lightning counter after finally managing to break through Toulouse's ranks. Although Mariano blazed his shot over (86'), Jordan Ferri also threatened minutes later (90'+1) before substitute Rafael capped OL's late surge, latching onto Ferri's deft pass and hammering past Alban Lafont for what turned out to be the winner (90'+2).
The defeat, Toulouse's second in a row and fifth in six matches, leaves the south-western club in 17th place, above the drop zone on goal difference alone.
THE PLAYER: Anthony Lopes
The ever-sharp Lopes proved instrumental in his side's hanging on for what could turn out to be a crucial win, notably producing a stunning save to deny lively TFC substitute Corentin Jean just as the home side were looking good for a leveller. The Portugal international needed all his reflexes and power to deny Jean's dangerous first-time side-footed effort, and the excellent stop proved the turning point as OL took the upper hand and clinched the result late in the piece.
THE STAT: 13
The scorer of OL's opener, captain Nabil Fekir now has 13 goals from 16 starts this season - that's as many goals as he scored in his most-prolific season so far, 2014-15. The first-half penalty also saw him draw level with club top scorer Mariano Diaz, himself a revelation this season after a summer arrival from Real Madrid.