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Lens defeats Lyon, rebound after Champions League nightmare

Lens Angelo Fulgini - Getty Images

PARIS (AP) — Hiring new coach Jocelyn Gourvennec brought an immediate reward to Nantes.

The eight-time champion snapped a four-game winless run on Saturday to hand Nice its first loss in the French league just three days after Gourvennec was appointed.

Nice was unbeaten in 13 league matches before kickoff and had won eight of its last 10 matches.

The Riviera side remained in second place, one point behind leader Paris Saint-Germain, which travels to Le Havre on Sunday. Nantes stood in eighth place, 12 points off the pace.

Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont made three decisive saves in the first half to help his side weather intense pressure from the visitors.

Florent Mollet broke the deadlock with a left-footed shot from close range in the 24th minute.

Douglas Augusto came close to doubling his team’s lead after an hour when his powerful half-volley hit the crossbar. Lafont was decisive again in the 63rd to deny Terem Moffi’s acrobatic kick.

“It's a shame, but their goalkeeper produced a very good game,” Nantes captain Dante said.

Coach Pierre Aristouy, who helped Nantes avoid relegation last season, was fired on Wednesday and replaced by Jocelyn Gourvennec.

Gourvennec played 109 matches and scored 32 goals for Nantes from 1995-98. He started his coaching career in 2008 and also managed Guingamp and Bordeaux.


Just days after getting hammered by Arsenal in the Champions League, Lens inflicted more misery on last-placed Lyon in a 3-2 victory.

Under the helm of interim coach Pierre Sage — who replaced Fabio Grosso this week — Lyon delivered a gritty display that will give the struggling seven-time champions some comfort in their fight against relegation.

Lyon made a strong start and led in the 14th minute from a goal by Jake O’Brien, who later completed a brace.

Wesley Saïd brought Lens level then Przemyslaw Frankowski gave the “Sang et Or” the lead from the penalty spot.

After O’Brien gave the visitors a glimmer of hope they could bring back a point from their trip to northern France, Frankowski connected with a cross from Ruben Aguilar and scored again with a left-footed shot to lift Lens within one point of fifth-placed Reims.

Unbeaten in its past nine league matches, Lens was thrashed at Arsenal 6-0 midweek for the biggest ever Champions League defeat by a French club.

Grosso was fired on Thursday after less than three months in charge at Lyon, a storied club known for its record run of seven straight league titles from 2002-08. The last time Lyon played in the second division was in 1989.


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