French champions Lille extended their unbeaten run to nine Ligue 1 Uber Eats matches with a 3-1 win over Lorient in Wednesday's rearranged Round 20 fixture; Troyes picked up a welcome victory at Montpellier in another delayed Round 20 game while Strasbourg defeated Clermont in a Round 19 fixture to move to within touching distance of the top three.
Lille 3-1 Lorient
The champions easily shook off the COVID-19 positive-enforced absence of coach Jocelyn Gourvennec as they disposed of a struggling Lorient side at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
The visitors had failed to win any of their previous 25 away trips in the top flight, and never looked likely to end that run after Isaac Lihadji put Lille in front on 10 minutes: the youngster netting his first senior goal from close range after Lorient goalkeeper Paul Nardi had parried a shot into one of his defenders, Léo Pétrot, and the ball could not have dropped more kindly for Lille.
Lorient were to be unluckier still when Burak Yilmaz's free-kick ricocheted off the wall, and though Nardi saved under pressure from Amadou Onana, he saw the ball strike Pétrot's centre-back partner Moritz Jenz and finish in the net (19').
By the half-hour mark, the game was over as a contest when Reinildo flicked Renato Sanches' free-kick into the net with Nardi stranded to claim his first league goal for Les Dogues, who have now won five times in their unbeaten run to move into eighth place, five points off third-placed Marseille having played a game more.
Lorient, who have now not won in 14 league matches, got some consolation thanks to Sambou Soumano's first top-flight strike.
Clermont 0-2 Strasbourg
Strasbourg had the opportunity to move into fourth place with a win against a Clermont side in freefall after just one victory in their previous 10 league games.
The in-form visitors made a strong start, forcing Ouparine Djoco into a number of saves before they found a way past the Clermont 'keeper with half-time approaching. Kevin Gameiro — starting with Habib Diallo at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal — made the perfect run to meet Jean-Eudes Ahoulou's through ball, and the former Lorient and Paris Saint-Germain striker expertly dinked the ball over Djoco (44').
Gameiro should have added a second shortly after half-time (52'), but it was not until Cédric Hountondji — on the day of his 28th birthday — put through his own goal (77') that Julien Stephan's men could breathe easily to leave themselves two points off Marseille, who have a game in hand on the Alsatians.
Montpellier 0-1 Troyes
Montpellier coach Olivier Dall'Oglio watched his side suffer a second straight defeat — on the back of four successive league wins — from his home following a positive COVID-19 test as counterpart Bruno Irles picked up his maiden triumph as Troyes coach.
An early double save from Gauthier Gallon — denying both Jordan Ferri and Téji Savanier (6') — suggested it might be a frustrating night for the hosts, who dominated possession but failed to translate that into goal threat.
When Savanier was sent off following a wild tackle on Oualid El-Hajjam (63'), the hosts would have been happy to take a point, but Xavier Chavalerin fired past Jonas Omlin with 16 minutes left to earn Troyes their first victory in six league games and their fifth of the 2021/22 campaign.