Salomon Kalou earned Lille a deserved 1-0 home victory over Stade Brest on Saturday as the Ligue 1 side bounced back from their Champions League collapse at Bayern Munich. The Ivorian forward volleyed home a Dimitri Payet cross on the stroke of halftime to extend Lille's unbeaten league run to give games.
The 2011 French champions, who were 15th before they started their successful run, climbed to fourth on 20 points from 12 matches, two behind leaders Paris St Germain. PSG visit champions Montpellier on Sunday after Olympique Marseille, second but tied on 22 points, host Nice. "We were expected to react and we did what we had to," forward Dimitri Payet told French channel Canal+.
"It was tough physically in the second half. The way we won has showed our character." Lille, who conceded five goals in the first 33 minutes at Bayern on Wednesday, started aggressively and dominated until Kalou scored a deserved opener in the 45th minute. Brest goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux parried a ball his defender Bernard Mendy, under pressure from Kalou, had awkwardly turned the ball towards his own goal on 12 minutes.
Seven minutes later, striker Nolan Roux failed to tap the ball in from point-blank following Kalou's superb effort from the left side of the box. The former Chelsea forward wasted another clear-cut chance before he deservedly netted the opener. Lille struggled to maintain their grip in the second half but shot-shy Brest never threatened keeper Mickael Landreau. Toulouse can claim top spot when they host Ajaccio later on Saturday.
(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ed Osmond)