Lille showed no sign of lethargy following the international break as they created a flurry of early chances against visiting Lorient and opened the scoring on home turf for the 12th time in Ligue 1 this season on 13 minutes.
A flowing early move was capped by Angel Gomes’ delicate through ball to Remy Cabella, who controlled in the area and fired low into the net past Vito Mannone.
The early goal gave Lille further momentum to push on for a third consecutive home win over Lorient, and they nearly added a second when Alexsandro headered over from close range, before Cabella’s powerful strike was repelled by Mannone.
Lorient struggled to break out of their own half due to Lille’s dominance in the first period, and they could have been further behind if not for a fingertip reaction save from Mannone to prevent Gomes’ fierce 25-yard strike.
Lille kept Lorient at arm’s length in the second period as Les Merlus’ chances of ending their five-match winless run on the road drifted away. The hosts continued to threaten and Gabriel Gudmundsson’s long-range strike flew inches wide of the post.
However, the hosts would be punished for their lack of ruthlessness as Lorient substitute Kone bundled his way through two Lille defenders and poked underneath Lucas Chevalier for the equaliser.
Lorient’s chances of holding on for a point looked in danger when Laurent Abergel was sent off for a second bookable offence and Lille eventually restored their lead late on as Zhegrova curled into the net from a tight angle before the Kosovan super-sub struck again from the edge of the box in injury time.
Ultimately, Lille deserved all three points and Zhegrova’s late heroics boost their European qualification chances.
Lorient were generally poor throughout and rarely threatened a well-organised Lille side as their hopes of breaking into Ligue 1’s top five were dealt a blow.