Lens beats Lille after match interrupted by fan violence

PARIS (AP) — The French league match between Lens and defending champion Lille was interrupted for about 30 minutes when fans from the northern rivals clashed at halftime on Saturday.

After the first half ended, a large group of Lens supporters invaded the field and ran to the away section where they fought with Lille fans. Riot police and stewards intervened and escorted them off the field. An emergency meeting took place to decide whether the match at Stade Bollaert should continue.

But after the second half got underway there was no further disorder and the match ended 1-0 to Lens, which is unbeaten under coach Franck Haise and moved up to second place.

Lille has won only once and the pressure is growing on coach Jocelyn Gourvennec, whose side is 13th and has conceded 12 goals in six games.

It is the second high-profile incident of the season in France following serious disorder at the Nice-Marseille game in August which was suspended for 90 minutes and called off. Nice fans stormed the field and punches were exchanged with players and staff from Marseille. It is rescheduled for Oct. 27.

American winger Timothy Weah recovered from a thigh injury and went on in the 62nd minute for Lille and a first appearance since Aug. 21. Weah, a son of Liberia president and former FIFA player of the year George Weah, had missed three World Cup qualifiers.

Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz went close to scoring for Lille midway through the second half when he flashed a header just over the crossbar from Benjamin Andre’s cross.

Moments later, Yilmaz was thwarted by goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca diving at his feet.

Those missed chances proved costly when Poland midfielder Przemysław Frankowski struck in the 73rd after being set up by Gael Kakuta. It was Frankowski’s first goal since joining from Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire.

After forward Wesley Saïd had a second goal for Lille ruled out for offside following a video replay, Leca denied Yilmaz again as he broke through in stoppage time.

In Saturday’s other game, Saint-Etienne faced fellow struggler Bordeaux in a scrap between winless sides.

___

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