Salomon Kalou’s first half goal on Sunday gave Lille a half-time lead on their way to a 2-1 victory over Bordeaux at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. The former Chelsea striker got his head on to the end of midfielder Florent Balmont’s excellent right-foot cross and Kalou nodded it past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso.
The 23rd minute header was Kalou’s 13th goal of the season and eight amongst the league’s top scorers. He had a couple of chances to add to his tally, and even missed an injury time penalty, but Ryan Mendes second-half tap-in was enough to win all three points despite Bordeaux’s late rally.
The three points takes Lille one step closer to securing third place in Ligue 1 and with it a place in the Champions League qualifier. Europe was always Lille’s objective this season after finishing sixth last season and missing out all-together.
The club from northern France now sit seven points clear of Saint-Etienne in fourth and a win next Friday away at Bastia will secure third place. Coach Rene Girard will hope to seal that third place finish as soon as possible as Lille’s last two games are by no means easy games.
On the penultimate weekend they host Paris Saint-Germain, with PSG’s title not quite wrapped up, the Parisians may need to win in Lille, so Saint-Etienne will not be giving up quite yet.
Salomon Kalou was all set to leave Lille in the summer if the French club can find a reasonable bid. Arsenal were linked with a winter move, which Kalou himself confirmed, but it is unclear whether Wenger will come back in for the former Chelsea man.
The forward is reportedly on over €2m a year in wages, too much for a side like Lille to carry in the current financial climate, but there is talk that Champions League football could help keep the forward in France.
Lille’s problem would be in trying to qualify for the group stage to make that happen. They will have to play in both the third qualifying round and the play-off round before making it to the competition itself. The play-off round would see them face top opposition from Germany, Spain and Italy.
It’s not an easy prospect, but one that they would rather be in than miss out.