PARIS (Reuters) – Champions Lille failed to convert a late penalty and remained in the bottom half of the Ligue 1 table when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by 10-man Nantes on Saturday.
The result left Lille stuck in 12th spot, with 18 points from 15 matches, one point behind their visitors who remained in 11th.
Jonathan David had his 80th-minute penalty saved by Alban Lafont after Fabio had given away the spot kick, and been sent off, for tugging on the shirt of Mehmet Celik.
It was an unconvincing effort from the Canadian international and proved a comfortable stop for the Nantes goalkeeper.
Lille, whose domestic form has contrasted with their Champions League exploits where they top their group with one game to play, went ahead early when veteran Burak Yilmaz crashed home a right-footed shot.
The ninth-minute goal was set up by Jonathan Bamba and suggested Lille could break a spiral of disappointing Ligue 1 form.
But, as had happened six times previously this season, they failed to hold on to their lead as Nantes equalised in the 24th minute.
Ludovic Blas shrugged off the defensive attention of both Tiago Djalo and captain Jose Fonte to squeeze his shot inside the post to make it 1-1.
Nantes might have taken the lead six minutes later but the effort of former Manchester United fullback Fabio cannoned back off the upright.
Nantes’s Pedro Chirivella missed a good chance with some 30 minutes left before Lille came back strongly to dominate the closing stages but squandered their chance to take all three points.
Later on Saturday, second-placed Nice entertain Metz while Sunday’s standout fixtures see leaders Paris St Germain, with 37 points, visit Saint Etienne and third-placed Rennes go to Lorient.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Clare Fallon)