Pepe hat-trick lifts Lille into second
In-form Nicolas Pepe claimed a hat-trick as LOSC Lille won 3-2 at Amiens SC on Saturday to move into provisional second place behind Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Amiens SC 2-3 LOSC
After slipping to their first defeat of the season at Angers just before the international break, Lille were seeking to get back on track against an Amiens side that had gone unbeaten in their last two outings.
Christophe Galtier's men made a bright start, and Pepe forced a good save from Régis Gurtner (15') as the Ivory Coast international began what would be an impressive 90 minutes.
Eddy Gnahore brought a stop from Mike Maignan (17') by way of riposte as the hosts sought to give as good as they got, but it was all they could do to keep Lille at arm's length until just before the break.
Rui Fonte, making his first appearance since his summer arrival, headed just wide (40') before Pepe was brought down in the area by Prince-Désir Gouano - he picked himself up to fire the spot-kick beyond Gurtner for his second league goal of the season (45+2').
Costly Konaté miss
Pepe was equally ice-cold when referee Nicolas Rainville awarded him a second opportunity from the spot — again, the pacy Lille man had been fouled — this time by Bakaye Dibassy — to give the visitors the chance to double their lead (56').
Amiens' marquee summer signing, Ganso, came off the bench to make his first league appearance in France just in time to see Pepe, teed up by Jonathan Ikoné, complete his hat-trick (76').
The Brazilian midfielder, a former teammate of Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar Jr at Santos, had an impact as he helped mount a late rally. His ball, slipped between two defenders, allowed summer arrival Rafal Kurzawa to score his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal (79').
Another newboy, Saman Ghoddos, netted in added time (90+3') what was a consolation strike, but it would have been the equaliser had Maignan not pushed out Moussa Konaté's penalty — awarded for a foul by José Fonte — three minutes from time.
THE PLAYER: Nicolas Pepe
The former Angers SCO forward might have left Lille in the summer, and he will undoubtedly have even more suitors in the future if he continues playing like this. Nerveless from the spot, and a menace with his pace and trickery, he was a joy to watch.
THE STAT: 3
Maignan has conceded just three of the ten penalties he has faced in Ligue 1.