AJ Auxerre's European experience paid off in the first leg as Kanga Akalé's goal on the stroke of half-time enabled Guy Roux's team to secure a slender advantage and spoil LOSC Lille Métropole's unbeaten home record in this season's UEFA Cup.
Having ended Lille's unbeaten run, Auxerre will hope to continue their own fine form at the Stade Abbé-Deschamps. Four European matches this term have yielded a draw and three wins, including a 3-1 defeat of AFC Ajax in late February which won Roux's charges a place in the last 16.
This tie marks only the second time that French teams have met in one of Europe's premier club tournaments. Lille coach Claude Puel was assistant to AS Monaco FC coach Jean Tigana when they tackled Olympique de Marseille in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup third round. It was a night to remember on 24 November 1998 as Marseille, without Fabrizio Ravanelli and Cyril Domoraud, travelled to the Stade Louis II. Robert Pires put Rolland Courbis' ensemble in front in the ninth minute, only for David Trezeguet to restore parity in the 18th minute.
And although Marseille regained the initiative just before half-time through Titi Camara, Ludovic Giuly scored Monaco's second equaliser in the 56th minute. Both sides finished with ten men with Monaco's Franck Dumas and Marseille's Florian Maurice getting their marching orders, while eight others had their names taken - five from Marseille, three from Monaco. The second leg a fortnight later was a tamer affair. Camara settled matters with the only goal at the Stade Vélodrome in the 71st minute, with Monaco's Muhamed Konjic's shown the red card.
There have also been two all-French encounters in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. On the first occasion, in 1995, Martin Djetou and Aleksandr Mostovoi scored second-half goals as RC Strasbourg won 2-0 at FC Metz in a single quarter-final match. Two summers later, Olympique Lyonnais beat Montpellier Herault SC 1-0 away and 3-2 at home.
Lille have competed once in the UEFA Champions League, finishing third in their group behind Manchester United FC and RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2001/02, but losing just two of their six fixtures. Auxerre's best performance in Europe came in the UEFA Cup, as they reached the semi-finals in 1992/93, losing to BV Borussia Dortmund. In 1997, they were eliminated by the German club in the last eight of the Champions League.
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