Lille defeated Sturm Graz (1-1, 3-0 in the first leg) on ​​Thursday at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League, reaching this stage for the first time in its history. of a European competition.

The seventh is the correct one. After six eliminations in the round of 16 of European competitions – five in the Uefa Cup or the Europa League, one in the Champions League – Losc managed to reach the quarter-finals, in this case within the third continental level .

After its demonstration in the south-east of Austria (3-0), the northern club assured what seemed inevitable given the difference in levels between the two clubs, at the end of a meeting where it essentially managed his advance. The word management seems more appropriate to describe this match: coach Paulo Fonseca took advantage of the clear advantage acquired in the first leg to line up several players accustomed to the substitutes’ bench from the outset, such as Vito Mannone in the cages, Ayyoub Bouaddi in midfield, Rémy Cabella on the left wing and Yusuf Yazici up front.

The Portuguese didn’t really have a choice as he still does not benefit from the contribution of his three winter recruits Andrej Ilic, Tiago Morais and Rafael Fernandes, all injured. In this configuration, his players had difficulty getting into their match, jostled by the second in the Austrian championship. From the second minute of play, the Sturm Graz players rushed towards the Lille cages to the point where it took several tackles and a saving save from Mannone to avoid opening the score.

After a quarter of an hour, the storm passed, Hakon Haraldsson shooting the first Lille arrow (16th), without danger for Vitezslav Jaros, excellent in the first leg. The first period was played without much rhythm until the goal of Tiago Santos (43rd), who opened the scoring in the middle of a forest of players, well served by Haraldsson.

But Lille lost their advantage a few minutes later, when Mika Biereth extended a nice diving header from his partner Gregory Wüthrich to equalize after a corner (45th 1).

Very wary before the match, Paulo Fonseca then brought on his captain Benjamin André as well as Angel Gomes and Jonathan David at half-time. But they got in tune with their teammate, playing piano. Apart from an attempt by Yazici deflected by Jaros, the approximately 17,000 supporters at Stade Pierre-Mauroy saw nothing to thrill about.

No matter, Lille has crossed a historic frontier on its scale. He could even go further in this competition where only Aston Villa, who knocked out Ajax Amsterdam at the same time, appear stronger.