LOSC Lille Métropole reached the UEFA Europa League knockout stages for the second season running after defeating KAA Gent 3-0 to leapfrog the Belgian Cup winners into second in Group C.
It may have been only their second triumph in the pool, but Lille ultimately eased in the last 32 with a powerful performance. Rudi Garcia's charges bossed the game throughout, hitting the post three times as well as scoring through Ludovic Obraniak, Pierre-Alain Frau and Moussa Sow. The result takes the French outfit a point clear of Gent in the final standings.
With the driving rain turning to snow before kick-off, the freezing conditions were always liable to have an impact and so it proved. Playing a more direct style than their opponents, the Ligue 1 leaders started strongly, coming close on 11 minutes when Túlio De Melo turned Frau's cutback against the upright.
While Lille played low-risk football, Francky Dury's men frequently got themselves in trouble trying to pass out of defence. The conditions were prompting errors, and when Marko Šuler under-hit a back pass on the half-hour, Obraniak burst through and dribbled nimbly around goalkeeper Bojan Jorgačević before slotting in.
Another Šuler slip presented Les Dogues with another chance, Obraniak hitting the post after being teed up by Eden Hazard. Gent almost conceded again before the interval, Jorgačević making a fine save to keep out Obraniak's drive following another defensive lapse.
The all-important second arrived in the 56th minute, as Frau robbed Christophe Lepoint on the edge of the penalty area and drilled in a low, right-footed shot. Although Bernd Thijs missed two good opportunities for the visitors, there was no denying Lille's superiority. Indeed, Sow had already been denied by the woodwork when the substitute rounded Jorgačević to add gloss to the score on 89 minutes.