LOSC Lille Métropole leapfrogged PFC Levski Sofia into second place in UEFA Europa League Group C with a deserved 1-0 victory in France.
Rudi Garcia's side had claimed a solitary draw from two matches and the result – courtesy of Aurélien Chedjou's second-half winner – edged them a point ahead of their opponents to set up a fascinating return in Bulgaria on 4 November.
Pierre-Alain Frau signalled Lille's intent inside 60 seconds with a drive that Bozhidar Mitrev tipped over: The reflexes of the Blues' custodian would prove a distinguishing feature of the first half. Eden Hazard was at the heart of the opening period's best moments, cleverly setting up Ludovic Obraniak early on only for his attempt to be deflected wide.
The Poland forward went even closer with a fizzing 25-metre effort after an adroit turn, Mitrev's slight touch enough to send the ball hurtling off the bar rather than under it. An even better save followed when Hazard latched onto a long ball from home goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau, Mitrev somehow repelling a ferocious strike from close range.
Hazard drove into the side netting after wrong-footing Ivo Ivanov to mark the resumption after half-time before the breakthrough came on 49 minutes. Chedjou directed his header into the corner from a neat nod across goal by Stéphane Dumont after Levski had failed to adequately deal with Hazard's free-kick.
The strike did not prove the catalyst for Lille to push on and prise a decisive second, however, and Levski came close to exploiting their increasingly nervous hosts as the contest progressed. Marian Ognyanov fired over a rare chance for Yasen Petrov's charges from distance and Vladimir Gadzhev's free-kick was headed wide by Yordan Miliev as Les Dogues held on.
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