Florian Sotoca found the net with a late penalty as Lens inflicted a fourth straight defeat on troubled Lyon on Sunday with a 1-0 win that preserves the northerners' unbeaten start to the 2022/23 Ligue 1 Uber Eats season and leaves them just a point outside the top three.
Franck Haise said pre-match his side had been over-performing for the last 30 months, but they continue to surprise after another high-tempo, high-intensity display that left Lyon struggling to catch their breath.
Though Alexandre Lacazette saw a shot ricochet off Kevin Danso and loop up onto the crossbar of Brice Samba's goal (25'), Lyon failed to muster an attacking threat as the hosts suffocated them and then cut through their embattled opponents almost at will.
A lightning counter-attack started by Sotoca just outside his own penalty area ended with Anthony Lopes winning his one-on-one duel with Nicolas Medina — one of Lens' three centre-backs! — before the Lyon goalkeeper then instinctively pushed out a Loïs Openda header (45+1') as it remained goaless at the break.
An Openda shot — kicked out by Lopes at his near post — in the opening 60 seconds after the interval set the tone for a one-sided second half. The impressive David Pereira da Costa volleyed over after the ball had ricocheted invitingly to him off Sinaly Diomandé(63'); there was another ricochet when Jimmy Cabot's curling effort from just outside the penalty area smacked Lopes' right-hand upright (76').
Substitute Wesley Saïd forced a good save from Lopes with a first-time shot and the Lyon goalkeeper was fortunate to see the ball bounce off Henrique and wide of the goal (77') only for OL's luck to run out inside the final ten minutes.
Cabot's free-kick was met by the head of Medina, and his effort struck the hand of Thiago Mendes. There was little doubt from referee Benoît Bastien as he pointed to the spot, and Sotoca's finish was still more emphatic as he moved onto six league goals for the season (82') to keep Lens' momentum high.
THE PLAYER: Kevin Danso
The Austria international was immense at both ends of the pitch. He twice might have found the net as he dominated in the air at set-pieces, and was equally imperious is keeping Lacazette quiet.
THE STAT: 17
Lens are now unbeaten in 17 league games stretching back to last season. The most recent defeat came on 3 April when the lost 1-0 at Strasbourg.