Football: Benzema gives Lyon breathing space
Karim Benzema gave leaders Lyon some breathing space in the 1-1 draw at local rivals St Etienne
PARIS, January 27, 2008 - A superbly-executed free kick from Karim
Benzema gave leaders Lyon some breathing space Sunday in bringing a 1-1 draw
at local rivals St Etienne to leave the reigning French champions four points
After a goalkeeping blunder left them with work to do it was only in the
dying seconds that France international Benzema rescued Alain Perrin's side to
take Lyon onto 46 points from 23 games with his 15th league goal of the
Rivals Bordeaux earlier saw their title charge hit the buffers as a 1-0
loss at Lorient left Laurent Blanc's men stuck on 42 points after a run of
four straight wins ended.
St Etienne took the lead on the stroke of half time thanks to a howler of a
clearance by Lyon's French international goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, who mishit
a clearance straight at Bafetimbi Gomis.
He reacted to nod the home after initially appearing to have no chance of
latching onto the loose ball.
Lyon, who welcomed back striker Sidney Govou after a fortnight out with
injury, came into the fray with the best away attack after scoring 17 times on
their travels but were up against a mean home defence.
Lorient earlier left Bordeaux's former World Cup winner Blanc dejected but
realistic after Christophe Jallet's penalty 15 minutes from time clinched the
Bordeaux's Brazilian defender Henrique fouled Rafik Saiki and Jallet
secured a gutsy win after sending Ulrich Rame the wrong way to give Lorient a
fifth win on a roll at their Moustoir stadium home.
"That's life I guess and I have told the players to put it behind them and
move on," said Blanc.
"We made an individual error and were punished with the penalty that won
the match but I am not too down as we took nine points out of 12 in January."
The result moved Lorient up three places to seventh, just three points off
the European places, whereas Bordeaux are now looking nervously over their
shoulders at third-placed Nancy, now just four points behind.
On Saturday, Djibril Cisse hogged the headlines when he hit a treble in
Marseille's 6-1 demolition of Caen.
The win rekindled the former European Cup winners' hopes of a place in the
UEFA Cup after an inconsistent season which had brought just seven league wins
in 22 matches.
The goal blitz still left Cisse's men five points off a European slot, but
coach Eric Gerets, without club top scorer Mamadou Niang, who is at the
African Nations Cup with Senegal, saluted Cisse as a man who "can do the
business" on the right, left or through the middle.
Mathieu Valbuena netted twice and Samir Nasri also got in on the act for
Paris Saint Germain, struggling in midtable, saw their hopes of shooting up
the table take a knock after a goalless draw away to Lille to leave the
capital club on 29 points from their 23 games.
Elsewhere, Nancy could only manage a 0-0 draw at lowly Auxerre, while
fourth-placed Nice made it 13 matches unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at strugglers
Fifth-placed Monaco slumped 1-0 at Le Mans, now just a point behind the