Lens triumph in ill-tempered derby

April 29, 2006

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - Racing Lens boosted their chances of playing in Europe next season by beating Lille 4-2 in an ill-tempered northern Ligue 1 derby on Saturday.

The game in Lens was marred by several ugly scenes and both sides played the last minute with 10 men after Lens defender Yohan Demont and Lille's substitute forward Kevin Mirallas were sent off following a heated exchange.

Striker Olivier Thomert opened the scoring from close range on nine minutes for Lens, who climb two places to fourth. Lille remain third but are now only two points ahead of their neighbours with two matches to go.

Gabon striker Daniel Cousin doubled the advantage from a penalty after he was stopped in the box on 40 minutes and Mali midfielder Seydou Keita added a third from a corner just before the break.

Nigeria striker Peter Odemwingie pulled one back for Lille on 51 minutes but two minutes later, Lens were on target again courtesy of forward Pierre-Alain Frau.

Lille kept fighting and reduced the arrears on 70 minutes through forward Abdulkader Keita, who entered the area beat Lens keeper Charles Itandje from close range.

The top two in Ligue 1 qualify directly for the Champions League with the third-placed team entering the third qualifying round. The team who end fourth make it into the UEFA Cup.

Leaders Olympique Lyon, who have already secured a record fifth consecutive title, host neighbours St Etienne on Sunday.