Jan 25 (Reuters) – Lille consolidated second place in Ligue 1 as two goals by impressive Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe earned them a 2-1 win in a fiery clash at Olympique de Marseille overshadowed by a firecracker incident on Friday.
Pepe gave Lille the lead on the stroke of halftime from the penalty spot and struck again in stoppage time before Mario Balotelli pulled a goal back for the hosts on his debut after joining from Nice on a six-month contract on Wednesday.
The match was marred, however, by a lengthy stoppage after a firecracker was thrown onto the pitch early in the second half.
It appeared to explode close to Marseille players Kevin Strootman and Jordan Amavi and referee Amaury Delerue took the players off the pitch for around 40 minutes.
When play resumed Marseille, languishing in seventh place after their eighth defeat this season, played the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Florian Thauvin was sent off for a clash with Youssouf Kone.
Lille have 43 points from 22 games, 10 behind runaway leaders Paris St Germain who have three games in hand. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)