LOSC resist spirited Grasshoppers to progress

LOSC Lille 1-1 Grasshopper Club (agg: 3-1)
A red card killed off the resurgence of the visitors, and allowed LOSC into Friday's play-off draw despite a draw.

Florent Balmont is congratulated after firing LOSC in front
Florent Balmont is congratulated after firing LOSC in front ©AFP

LOSC Lille booked their place in Friday's UEFA Champions League play-off draw despite being held at home by a spirited ten-man Grasshopper Club.

Defending a healthy two-goal lead from their first leg success in Switzerland, Florent Balmont's stunner on 19 minutes put LOSC in a commanding position. Before the break Amir Abrashi levelled matters on the night, but any hopes Grasshoppers harboured of an aggregate comeback were dealt a fatal blow by Daniel Pavlović's dismissal midway through the second half.

It was a 30-metre bolt from the blue that sent Grasshoppers scurrying. The source of the goal was almost as remarkable as the goal itself, coming as it did 541 days after Balmont last got his name on the scoresheet. The splendid effort, sent flying into the top corner after the 34-year-old collected the ball in midfield, also worsened Grasshoppers' already tricky predicament.

The Swiss outfit refused to collapse and Abrashi, having already seen an effort repelled by Vincent Enyeama then left the LOSC keeper with no chance. Pouncing on a loose ball, the forward fired low into the net from the edge of the box.

After the restart Ryan Mendes came up short when sent through one-on-one with Vaso Vasić and LOSC were almost punished. Enyeama's superb reaction save kept out Munas Dabbur's header from Pavlović's expert free-kick delivery, before Mahmoud Soliman struck a post. A straight red card for Pavlović on 69 minutes undid his hard work and did irreparable damage to Grasshoppers' momentum. They now transfer to the UEFA Europa League play-offs.