Lille leave it late, goalless in Paris
Lille came away from their trip to Bulgaria with a point, but only after battling back from a goal down twice to draw 2-2. Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain were held to a goalless draw by Dortmund in an entertaining affair in the capital.
Thursday 4 November
UEFA Europa League Group C
Levski Sofia 2-2 Lille
Lille arrived in Sofia knowing that a win would see them take a major step towards the knockout stages. However, with a crunch league clash against Brest just around the corner, coach Rudi Garcia opted to rest several key men, making a total of seven changes to his starting line-up.
It was perhaps no surprise that this much-changed team started slowly, and the hosts took the lead with just twelve minutes gone. Garra Dembélé - a Frenchman who learnt his trade at Clairefontaine and also played under Guy Roux at Auxerre – was the man on target, slotting through the legs of Mickaël Landreau after pouncing on an error by Aurélien Chedjou.
LOSC were back on level terms before half-time thanks to Tulio De Melo. The Brazilian had earlier been denied by the post, but he finally got his first goal of the campaign with a 35th-minute header.
However, the home side were the better team for long spells, and they looked set to take all three points when Vladimir Gadzhev found the net with a superb long-range strike eight minutes from time.
Not to be denied, Lille escaped with a point when Ivo Ivanov, who had only just come off the bench, put through his own net. Given that the visitors managed just a single shot on target over the course of the ninety minutes, the 2-2 scoreline may seem kind on them, but Garcia will not be complaining about a result that keeps his men on course for a place in the next round. LOSC remain second in the section, a point ahead of both Levski and Gent, who beat leaders Sporting 3-1 in Belgium.
Paris Saint-Germain 0-0 Borussia Dortmund
PSG maintained their unbeaten record in Group J after drawing with the Bundesliga leaders at the Parc des Princes, but the result may feel more like two points dropped rather than one gained for Antoine Kombouaré's men after they missed several decent chances to find the net.
The likes of Guillaume Hoarau, Claude Makelele, Clément Chantome and Ludovic Giuly were all left on the bench as Kombouaré once again shuffled his pack for the European stage. It may have seemed a risky business against a Dortmund side that was at full strength and had won it's last five away games in the Bundesliga.
However, had it not been for the form of visiting goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, PSG might have run away with the game. In need of a goal to boost his confidence, Mevlut Erding was denied several times, while Nenê was once again at the heart of everything good that the hosts produced.
Having failed to convert the opportunities that fell their way, PSG needed Apoula Edel to be at his best to deny Dortmund as they pushed forward in the closing stages. There was little he could do about a Lucas Barrios shot that whistled inched past, but he was on hand to keep out a Shinji Kagawa volley, and then, in the last minute, the home shotstopper reacted superbly to deny Robert Lewandowski and keep out Kagawa's follow-up.
With Sevilla winning comfortably against group whipping boys Karpaty Lviv, Paris drop down to second spot, but with eight points they remain well placed, three points clear of the German giants.