LYON, France (AP) — Karim Benzema returned and Alexandre Lacazette’s late penalty rescued a 1-1 draw for Lyon against Nice to keep his team just ahead of the visitors in the French league on Friday.
Former Lyon forward Benzema, now playing for Real Madrid, was given a hero’s welcome as he presented his Ballon d’Or to the home fans before kickoff.
Lacazette blasted the spot kick down the middle as Lyon supporters behind the goal were already celebrating the goal with a huge display of red pyrotechnics.
But the decision to award the penalty was debatable as TV replays showed Lacazette was already off balance and falling before the alleged contact from Jean-Clair Todibo. Todibo’s and fellow defender Dante’s protests were waved away.
It looked like Nicolas Pepe’s retaken first-half penalty would be enough for Nice.
The visitors missed early chances to score with Pepe having a goal ruled out for offside and Sofiane Diop blazing over from a good position.
Nicolas Tagliafico conceded a penalty for handball but Pepe saw his spot kick saved by Anthony Lopes. However, Lopes was penalized for moving off his line and Pepe took his second opportunity to break the deadlock in the 38th.
Pepe flashed a shot wide of the far post early in the second half then Lyon finally began to threaten.
Lacazette’s late penalty took his goal tally to nine this season for Lyon. It kept Lyon eighth, a point ahead of Nice.