Unhappy: Lyon players argue with French referee Bastien Dechepy (Nicolas TUCAT)
Seven-time French champions Lyon battled to their first point of the Ligue 1 season on Sunday in a 0-0 draw at Nice but they remain deep in trouble.
Coach Laurent Blanc had led Lyon to their worst start to a Ligue 1 campaign since 1966 after opening losses to Strasbourg and Montpellier.
They were under the cosh for large parts of Sunday’s match.
Nice had the better of the chances early on with Terem Moffi and Gaetan Laborde having opportunities to break the deadlock.
For Lyon, Bradley Barcola forced Jean-Clair Todibo to concede a corner while Amin Sarr, playing in place of the suspended Alexandre Lacazette, tested Nice keeper Marcin Bulka.
In the dying moments, Nicolas Tagliafico appeared to handle the ball in his area but the referee ignored Nice’s appeals for a penalty, insisting the ball had hit the player’s knee instead.
“We dominated, I agree,” said Nice’s 36-year-old coach Francesco Farioli.
“The team deserved victory in front of these exceptional fans. We felt that we were playing with 12 men.”
Despite the hard-earned point, things will only get harder for Lyon who tackle champions Paris Saint-Germain next weekend.
“Tonight, it’s a good point for Lyon, nothing more,” said Blanc.
“Sometimes I hear that my team doesn’t want to defend or doesn’t know how to defend. Tonight, my team proved that they know how to defend. Some will say that’s not much.”
Rennes blew the chance to climb into the top three as they allowed visiting Le Havre to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2.
Ludovic Blas, with his first goal in Ligue 1, and Christopher Wooh both put Rennes two-up after just 23 minutes but Le Havre hit back with a goal in each half from former Monaco striker Nabil Alioui.
“We got carried away and were punished,” said Rennes coach Bruno Genesio after the match, visibly annoyed by the result but above all “the manner” of it.
“It’s not acceptable,” he said.
Genesio’s side are sixth in the table, level on points with Paris Saint-Germain who picked up their first win of the season on Saturday with Kylian Mbappe scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Lens, last season’s runners up.
Rennes and PSG are two points behind leaders Monaco and Marseille, and one point behind Brest.
Lille slumped to a 4-1 defeat at Lorient, three days after also losing their Europa Conference League play-off first leg clash against Rijeka of Croatia.
Laurent Abergel and Julien Ponceau headed in early goals for Lorient inside the first 10 minutes with Romain Faivre and Vincent Le Goff making sure of the three points after the break.
Montpellier could have gone level with Monaco and Marseille but suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Reims who moved into third spot, one point off the top.
Teddy Teuma scored twice for Reims.