Although Reims’ recent run of three losses ‘to nil’ had killed any ambitions they may have had of playing European football next season, Les rouges et blancs had the opportunity to ruin Lille’s chances of a first top-four finish since being crowned champions in 2020/21.
Les Rouges et Blancs rose to the challenge, ending their goal drought when Marshall Munetsi gave them the lead, just as he had done in the same fixture last season.
The Zimbabwean midfielder headed home after 22 minutes, reacting fastest to pounce on the loose ball after Folarin Balogun hit the crossbar from close range.
Things almost became significantly harder for the visitors just after the half-hour mark when goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier was sent off for bringing down Munetsi, who was bearing down on goal, but the referee rescinded the red card after a brief VAR review.
However, Lille didn’t appear to heed the warning and were perhaps lucky to head into the break with a one-goal deficit after the hosts had a second ruled out for offside.
Les Dogues needed to find an equaliser if they were going to keep piling pressure on Monaco in the race for the top-four, and thought they’d found it after 56 minutes, but Edon Zhegrova’s effort from inside the six-yard box was saved by Yehvann Diouf.
The chances of Lille finding a goal were beginning to look slim, with the visitors struggling to break through the Reims back four as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
Time was running out for Lille with the visitors finding it difficult to muster a shot to test the Reims goalkeeper. Will Still’s men seemed more than happy to sit back and soak up any pressure from the away side and managed to do so comfortably until the game came to a close.
Lille’s failure to find an equaliser leaves them fifth in Ligue 1, two points behind fourth-placed Monaco having played a game more. Meanwhile, Reims sit comfortably in midtable in ninth place.