PARIS — Nabil Fekir continued his return to form by scoring both goals as Lyon beat Metz 2-0 to climb up to third place in the French league on Sunday.
Fekir’s serious knee injury two years ago when playing for France against Portugal halted his progress, and he was inconsistent last season as he battled back to form and fitness.
But the 24-year-old forward has scored nine goals in 10 league games this season, and five in the last three in all competitions. He will look to keep that run going when Everton visits Lyon in the Europa League on Thursday. Lyon then travels to play local rival Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
"We’ve got a very important week coming up with two big games that we have to win," Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. "We’re continuing our good run, even though we were a bit complacent in the second half."
Lyon, which has won its last four games overall, used the flanks to good effect against last-place Metz in the first half. But Lyon’s intensity dropped off after the break.
Fekir’s first effort came in the sixth minute after playing a neat one-two with Brazilian left back Marcal. He struck his second on 20 minutes after running onto a cut-back from Netherlands right back Kenny Tete.
Lyon is one point ahead of fourth-place Marseille, three behind second-place Monaco and seven adrift of unbeaten leader Paris Saint-Germain.
SIX AND COUNTING
Resurgent Marseille is pushing for a top-three place after extending its unbeaten run to six league games with a hard-fought 1-0 win at struggling Lille.
Marseille coach Rudi Garcia and Lille’s Marcelo Bielsa faced their former clubs. Garcia led Lille to the league and Cup double in 2011, while Bielsa walked out on Marseille just one game into the 2015-16 season. He had verbally agreed a new contract, but then changed his mind.
This time, Garcia came out on top as Marseille followed up last weekend’s encouraging 2-2 home draw against PSG with a tenacious performance. In contrast, Bielsa’s side is in deep trouble and languishes 19th with just six points — four away from safety.
Marseille scored in the fifth minute when attacking midfielder Morgan Sanson neatly turned in winger Florian Thauvin’s free kick from the right.
Lille responded well, but Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda made four saves before halftime — making up for last Sunday’s error when he let in an injury-time free kick against PSG.
"The most important thing is that we didn’t concede and we held on," Mandanda said on Canal Plus television. "Sometimes you need to win matches like this."
Former Ajax midfielder Anwar El Ghazi went close for Lille with a free kick early in the second half. Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who scored a superb goal from 30 metres (yards) against PSG, had a powerful shot tipped away by Lille ‘keeper Mike Maignan in injury time.
Moments later, Lille striker Ezequiel Ponce almost grabbed an equalizer in a late scramble in the Marseille goal mouth.
"After scoring early on, the most difficult thing was to hold onto the result," Marseille’s Adil Rami said. "I think we’re on the right track."
Marseille’s next game is at home to seventh-place Caen.
In Sunday’s other match, Saint-Etienne stays sixth after drawing 0-0 at mid-table Toulouse in a gritty game of few chances.