Bertrand Traoré salvaged a point for Olympique Lyonnais as they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home by a stubborn Stade de Reims side on Friday.
Olympique Lyonnais 1-1 Stade de Reims
Goals: 0-1 Chavarria (34'), 1-1 Traoré (70')
Reims had won the duo's meeting early in the season, but their boss, David Guion, had warned his players the Lyon team they were meeting now was very different. It was also a little altered from the side that had been beaten 2-1 by RC Strasbourg Alsace in Tuesday's Coupe de la Ligue BKT quarter-final.
Traoré had watched most of that game from the bench, but started in place of Martin Terrier and the former Chelsea man looked to have made the most of his opportunity when he found the net with a sweet left-foot effort only for VAR to rule his strike out (14').
A timely block by Alaixys Romao — back from suspension after missing last weekend's Coupe de France win over RC Lens — frustrated Hossem Aouar (15') while Nabil Fekir, who missed a penalty against Strasbourg, might have opened the scoring had he been able to connect with Leo Dubois' cross (20').
Just like in midweek, when Lyon seemed to be getting control of the game, they lost it. Nolan Mbemba moved down the right and found Rémi Oudin — before the Lyon defence could react to his cross, Pablo Chavarria had nipped ahead of Jason Denayer to send the ball past Anthony Lopes (34').
Back in the side after missing his team's last three matches, Chavarria had been the difference between the two sides earlier in the campaign, though only a smart Edouard Mendy save ensured the Argentine's strike kept his club in the driving seat at the break (42').
Maxwel Cornet's arrival in place of a jaded Fekir at the break immediately invigorated the hosts. The substitute quickly forced Mendy into another stop (47') before Traoré's measured left-foot effort caused the Reims goalkeeper more concern (51').
A Marcelo header flashed wide (63') as Lyon's pressure became suffocating, and they finally broke through a Reims team that had lost just twice in its previous 12 league outings before arriving at the Groupama Stadium when Traoré's shot flicked off Ghislain Konan en route past Mendy (70').
The Burkina Faso international's sixth league strike of the season would not even have been worth a point had Lopes not won his one-on-one duel with Sheyi Ojo (82') as Bruno Genesio's men lost ground on second-placed LOSC Lille, 3-1 victors at Caen earlier in the evening, and they risk seeing Montpellier Hérault SC knock them off the podium if the southerners can win at Dijon on Sunday.
THE PLAYER: Edouard Mendy
The Reims goalkeeper has more than played his part in helping his team record nine clean sheets this season, that's as many as Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain. He couldn't keep Lyon out entirely, but his saves ensured the Champagne outfit picked up a precious, unexpected point.
THE STAT: 1
This was the first time since July 1978 the pair had played out a draw — Reims had won four of the ten top-flight encounters between the duo since then.