PARIS (AFP) –
Lyon made hard work of keeping their challenge for a first French league title in five years alive when they were held to a goalless draw at home by Evian on Friday.
The visitors, facing a relegation battle as they sit third from bottom, defended doggedly for long periods and denied Lyon the chance to open up a five-point gap over title rivals Paris Saint-Germain.
In near freezing conditions, but with the pitch showing no trace of the day’s snow, Lyon just about took the first half honours, with Brazilian Michel Bastos causing Evian all manner of problems down their right flank but failing to find the opening.
After being put clear by Bafetimbi Gomis on the edge of the area, Bastos’ shot was gathered by Evian’s Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen on 36 minutes and minutes before the break he whipped in a telling cross for Yoann Gourcouf who snatched at his shot and sent it spinning past Andersen’s left-hand post.
Just after the hour mark Lyon wasted their best chance to take the lead as Bastos again threaded a neat ball through the centre for Steed Malbranque to run on to and he unselfishly switched it to Alexandre Lacazette, clear on the right of the area, but he sent a tame effort beyond the far post.
Milos Ninkovic gave Lyon a rare fright when got away and sent in a low shot from 20 metres but it slid across the face of goal.
With a quarter-of-an-hour left, Bastos again fed substitute Lisandro Lopez, on for the ineffective Gomis, and he burst through on the left but Andersen was quickly out to cover and turn the ball round for a corner.
Evian defender Iheb Mbarki saved his side five minutes from the end when he beat Lisandro to a dipping cross and headed behind for a corner but gashed his head on the upright as he fell and needed treatment on the pitch.
Lyon are now three points ahead of PSG, who face a stern test on Sunday when they travel to Bordeaux, who are fourth and unbeaten at home this season.