PARIS (AP) — After spectacular goals lately, Lyon winger Mathieu Valbuena produced a contender for the French league's best miss when he fluffed an open goal as they lost at home to Lille 2-1 on Saturday.
Following good work down the right from substitute Maxwell Cornet, the ball fizzed across the area and landed perfectly for Valbuena with no defenders around him. But he tried to smash it into the net from six meters out and it hit the crossbar.
Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama made the noble gesture of comforting Valbuena, who then buried his head into the net in disbelief at missing a chance to equalize with 20 minutes left.
"You can't condemn someone because they miss a chance," Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. "Even though it was a huge one."
Valbuena's bad day got worse when he gave away the penalty that led to Lille's second goal in the 80th, dispatched by former Lyon striker Yassine Benzia, who then got into an argument with goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and midfielder Maxime Gonalons, his ex-teammates.
The Lyon crowd greeted Benzia's second goal with vitriolic chanting, but should perhaps have saved it for its own players.
The defeat left Lyon eight points behind third-place Paris Saint-Germain and four ahead of fifth-place Marseille, although Lyon has a game in hand.
Memphis Depay made his full debut for Lyon after joining last week from Manchester United, but the winger did not make much impression, and neither did his teammates in a much-vaunted attack that had scored 15 goals in the five previous matches.
Depay came off midway through the second half and Cornet made far more of an impact.
Although Lyon top-scorer Alexandre Lacazette netted his ninth goal in seven games with a late penalty — taking his league tally to 18 — he also missed a great chance for 2-2 when he drilled his shot just wide.
In the first half, Lyon struggled to break down a Lille side that kept its shape well and threatened on the counterattack. Benzia scored in the 38th minute with a deflected shot. He played more than 50 games for Lyon before joining Lille two years ago.
"Once again we only played one half properly," said Genesio who, before the match, touted Lyon as a title contender. "We were invisible at the start. It's hard to explain why."
Lopes and Lille defender Younousse Sankhare had to be separated by teammates as they squared up to each other at the final whistle.
In later games, it was: Angers vs. Metz; Bastia vs. Caen; Lorient vs. Dijon; Nancy vs. Bordeaux, and Rennes vs. Nantes.
PSG faces league leader Monaco in Paris and second-place Nice plays Guingamp on Sunday.