Gervinho and Eden Hazard were on target as Lille recorded a thoroughly professional success against Nice
Initially the visitors found it hard to bounce back from their recent adverse results in the league, but a super goal from Eden Hazard just before the interval cut them free. Within seconds of the restart, Gervinho had doubled the lead of Rudi Garcia’s side, putting the game beyond the reach of a Nice side who didn’t offer enough going forward to trouble the Ligue 1 leaders.
The hosts certainly carved out some promising situations in the early stages of the game, but Mickael Landreau in the visiting goal was never seriously troubled. Anthony Mounier was a particularly troublesome presence in the early stages, but the closest the former Lyon youth would come was a header wide of target.
Nice have had one of the steadiest defences in France over the course of the last year, and they kept Lille at an arm’s length for much of the first half. Gervinho broke the offside trap down the left after 10 minutes but was ultimately squeezed out, while Tulio de Melo had a powerful shot fly over from the edge of the box.
There had been little evidence of the incisive passing play that Lille are capable of in the first half when Florent Balmont limped off injured to be replaced by Hazard, and it would be the young Belgian who would spark his side into life. A smart one-two at the edge of the box with Ludovic Obraniak created space for the winger to burst into and hammer a shot into the roof of Lionel Letizi’s net.
Moments after half-time, the veteran goalkeeper would again be plucking the ball from his net. Obraniak was once again the catalyst of Nice’s pain, playing a wonderful ball behind the home defence that Gervinho marched onto before rounding the former France international and shooting into an empty net.
Happy with their cushion, Lille were happy to play on the counter for the remainder of the game, though the home side were not without a threat in the closing stages. Eric Mouloungui has been a livewire in recent times in the league, and he was again to the fore against the northerners, hitting the post with a header from a deep centre and then firing just wide 10 minutes later.
It would not be until the closing 10 minutes that Garcia’s men came under any sustained period of pressure, but by then the situation was too desperate for Nice to salvage. Chaouki Ben Saada’s skimming shot from 30 yards forced Landreau into some smart work before Abdou Traore had a shot deflected a whisker over the bar.
Mouloungui thought he had won a penalty in the dying minutes, but referee Fredy Fautrel was right to wave play on as Mathieu Debuchy had executed an exemplary challenge on the rampaging striker.
Lille perhaps should have extended their lead in final three minutes, but twice promising breaks were thwarted by the over-extravagance of the visiting side, who well knew their presence in the semi-finals was assured.
LOSC will face the winners of Angers against Paris Saint-Germain, who play on Wednesday night.