Victor Osimhen was on target for LOSC Lille as the Nigeria international netted his 12th goal of the Ligue 1 Conforama season and Renato Sanches added another to beat Angers SCO 2-0 on Friday and allow their side to move level with third-placed Stade Rennais FC.
An early Loïc Rémy goal had been enough for Lille to beat Rennes in midweek, and Christophe Galtier's men pulled level with the Breton side on the bottom step of the L1 podium thanks in large part to Osimhen's first-half strike at the Stade Raymond Kopa. Rennes will pull clear again if they avoid defeat when they host Stade Brestois 29 on Saturday.
Angers came into the game winless in four and with just three victories in their last 15 league games, but would have been hopeful of a positive result given they had only ever lost twice at home to Lille in 17 previous meetings. Osimhen, however, soon showed the hosts history counted for nothing.
A fine strike it was too. Sent clear by Jonathan Bamba, Osimhen weighed up his options before deftly lobbing the advancing Ludovic Butelle. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but after a nervy wait and VAR discussions, it was eventually given (14').
The impressive summer signing from Charleroi should have made it two soon after, but directed his sidefoot shot just close enough to Butelle to allow the ex-Lille 'keeper to deny his former side (18'). With only nine goals in their last 16 league matches, Angers could muster only a Rachid Alioui shot that flashed wide (20') by means of an early threat.
Neither side was able to look like adding to the scoreline nevermind actually do it until Lille found the net again with just 15 minutes to go. Galtier saw his side find the net twice in the same league game for just the third time in their last 13 top-flight outings when Renato Sanches seized onto Luiz Araujo's pass, wrongfooted Mateo Pavlovic and fired past Butelle (75').
Just as after the opening goal, LOSC immediately pushed for another and only Butelle once more stood between Osimhen and a third for Lille, who then lost their top scorer to injury (80'). The setback allowed January signing Nicolas Gaitan to make his LOSC debut as last season's runners-up moved to within six points of second-placed Olympique de Marseille, who host bottom side Toulouse FC on Saturday.
THE PLAYER: Victor Osimhen
How many times has the Nigerian Super Eagle been the one to turn matches Lille's way this season? Lille will be hoping the injury that forced Osimhen to be stretchered off is not too serious.
THE STAT: 3
LOSC have now won three of their last 5 away games in L1. It's a run of form that is all the more remarkable given they had failed to triumph on any of their previous 11 top-flight trips prior to starting that streak.