Evian denied late on
Last Updated: 16/02/14 10:55pm
Lille's Ryan Mendes is congratulated
Ryan Mendes' injury-time leveller denied Evian their first victory in nine Ligue 1 matches to secure a 2-2 draw for third-placed Lille.
Cedric Mongongu's second-half penalty looked like being the difference between the two sides after Divock Origi had cancelled out Kevin Berigaud's opener to level the scores level at the break.
However, Mendes popped up with just seconds to go to break the hosts' hearts and claim a vital point in the race for a European spot.
Pascal Dupraz's side looked like opening up a crucial five-point gap on Valenciennes, who occupy the final relegation place in 17th, but it remains to be seen how important Mendes' equaliser could be come the end of the season.
Both sides went close early on with Nolan Roux heading Origi's cross wide for the visitors before Vincent Enyeama did well to keep the scores level at the other end when he saved from Marco Ruben after the Argentinian cleverly beat Simon Kjaer to set up the chance.
An early goal seemed inevitable and it came with quarter of an hour played Berigaud met Modou Sougou's inviting cross and headed beyond Enyeama to give the hosts a deserved lead.
However, that lead remained for just just eight minutes when Origi created a goal out of nothing, cutting in from the left before sending the ball beyond an unsighted Bertrand Laquait from just inside the area.
Lille continued to create chances and Roux powered straight at Laquait from a corner before the former Brest frontman went one better and found the back of the net from a Salomon Kalou pass only for the linesman to bring his celebration to a premature end.
Laquait was called upon again just after the break when Roux fired in a low cross-shot but he was equal to it and got down with a firm hand to keep the scores level as Lille continued to threaten.
However, with the visitors looking more and more threatening, Evian were handed a glorious chance to reclaim a vital lead when Souare handled inside the area and referee Laurent Duhamel pointed at the spot.
Mongongu took charge and made no mistake from 12 yards, firing the ball beyond the diving Enyeama.
Lille tried to offer a response when Kjaer met Florent Balmont's free-kick but the Denmark international's header lacked the power to beat Laquait who gathered with ease.
With Evian seemingly destined for a first three points since December though, substitute Mendes ruined the hosts' party when he broke free before seeing his cross-cum-shot loop over Laquait and nestle in the back of the net.
French Ligue 1
|2||Paris St Germain||10||18|
|17||Evian Thonon Gaillar||10||10|