Burak Yilmaz struck twice as LOSC beat Derby du Nord rivals RC Lens 3-0 at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis to close in on a first Ligue 1 Uber Eats title since 2011.
RC Lens 0-3 LOSC
Lens playmaker Gaël Kakuta said earlier in the week that he would rather see Paris Saint-Germain be crowned French champions than Lille at the end of the campaign - something Yilmaz took great exception to. The Turkish striker did the rest of his talking with his feet minutes into the game, crashing a penalty beyond Jean-Louis Leca after Jonathan Bamba was fouled in the box (2'). Lens might have returned fire minutes later when Ignatius Ganago found Seko Fofana in space, but the Ivorian sent a tame first-time effort into the gloves of Leca's opposite number, Mike Maignan (15'). Lens have been a credit to themselves since winning promotion last season, and they kept chipping away at LOSC, Ganago forcing a pair of saves from Maignan (27', 34'), but their task was made significantly harder when Clément Michelin was given his marching orders after a late challenge on Yilmaz (35'). The Turkey striker duly took full advantage at the end of the half, turning in what looked like no man's land and firing a stunning second into the top corner on his nominally weaker left foot (40').
LOSC were only a lick of paint away from making it 3-0 soon after the restart. Luiz Araujo left fly from the edge of the box but Leca spring across his goal to touch the Brazilian's shot away, via his near post (55'). Sven Botman then forced Leca into a save, his looping header from a Xeka corner threatening to sneak in under the crossbar (58'). Xeka dragged an effort wide (59') before Lille found their third. Leca made a mess of a long-range Bamba drive and Jonathan David was on hand to steer his 12th goal of the campaign high into the net (60'). Lens refused to let their heads go down and Ganago saw an acrobatic attempt from close range fly narrowly over (62'), but they were swimming against the tide. Timothy Weah, on minutes earlier for David, had his first chance with a low shot across Leca which beat the 'keeper but also his far post (71'). Yilmaz made way for his compatriot Yusuz Yazici (75'), and was visibly disappointed not to have the opportunity to complete his hat-trick. Jose Fonte headed a late chance off target (82') before Maignan denied Fofana at the other end (84') and it ended 3-0.
THE PLAYER: Burak Yilmaz
Yilmaz has been a revelation since swapping Besiktas for Lille at the start of the season. A long-time Turkey international, the suspicion was nonetheless that the forward was coming into the autumn of his career at 35 years old. Yilmaz has had none of that, though. His goals here were the 14th and 15th of a superb maiden Ligue 1 Uber Eats campaign, and his impassioned defence of the club before kick-off will, alongside his goals, make him a firm fan favourite once the Stade Pierre-Mauroy is fully occupied again.
THE STAT: 10
It has been a decade since Lille won their third French top-flight title, a team featuring Eden Hazard, Gervinho, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye taking the field by storm to finish eight points clear of Olympique de Marseille. Yilmaz, Maignan, David and Co. will soon be spoken about in the same terms if they can hold onto a league triumph which remains in their grasp. LOSC are four points clear of PSG, who have a game in hand, but time is running out for them.