Kalou brace boosts Lille
Last Updated: 15/12/13 7:06pm
Salomon Kalou scored twice for Lille
A Salomon Kalou inspired Lille came from behind at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy to beat Bastia 2-1.
The former Chelsea striker's first-half brace proved enough to make it four wins out five for the hosts despite Ludovic Genest giving Frederic Hantz's side an early lead.
Three points helped solidify third spot for the 2011 Ligue 1 champions, opening up a nine-point gap on fourth-placed Bordeaux who inflicted Lille's first defeat in 12 league outings last week.
The visiting Corsicans almost made an ideal start when Ryad Boudebouz and Adama Ba combined but the latter's stinging effort was pushed away by Vincent Enyeama in the Lille goal.
However, that just proved to be a warning for the hosts and Bastia took an early lead in stunning fashion to shock the hosts. Ba saw his delivery headed clear but Genest controlled 25 yards out before firing a first-time volley-on-the-turn over a surprised Enyeama's head and into the top corner.
Lille tried to offer a quick reply but Kalou saw his header superbly saved by Mickael Landreau after Florent Balmont picked him out with a cross.
However, the Ivorian found the net after 17 minutes when he levelled in what was a blistering opening to the game.
Picked out in the right angle of the area by Nolan Roux, the former Chelsea man escaped the attentions of Sebastien Squillaci before sending the ball beyond Landreau with his left foot to delight of the Lille faithful.
Not content with his opening effort, though, Kalou doubled his tally just five minutes later to score his fifth of the season.
Marko Basa picked out Lille's number eight on the edge of the area and he took a touch before sending a left-footed drive beyond Landreau and into the top corner.
With half-time approaching, Kalou thought his afternoon had got even better when he latched onto Roux's near post header from Balmont's corner but his hat-trick was denied by the assistant's flag.
Both sides paused for some much needed breath at the break following a pulsating opening 45 minutes, but Bastia's chances of a comeback were dented when influential keeper Landreau had to be replaced by Jean-Louise Leca.
Lille continued to press for a third in the second-half and Franck Beria's cross almost caught out Leca as it bent towards the top corner but the substitute keeper was alert to deny the full-back.
Despite offering little in a terms of a response, Bastia almost pulled themselves back into the tie when Genest came close to his second with a first-time shot inside the area but Antonio Mavuba countered to prevent the leveller.
Not for the first time in the game, Kalou thought he'd sealed his hat-trick in the 76th minute but, after he converted Roux's delivery, the assistant rightly raised his flag to deny the Ivorian.
Substitute Ronny Rodelin almost wrapped things late on with two efforts, but in the end that proved insignificant and Lille claimed all three points.
French Ligue 1
|2||Paris St Germain||27||53|
|17||Evian Thonon Gaillar||26||29|