Football: Lyon stretch French lead

24th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Serial French champions Lyon moved a step closer to seventh heaven on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Lorient

   PARIS, January 23, 2008  - Serial French champions Lyon moved a step
closer to seventh heaven on Wednesday when a 2-0 win over Lorient extended
their lead over Bordeaux to six points, boosting their chances of a seventh
successive title.
   Bordeaux will seek to stay on Lyon's coattails with a win over midtable St
Etienne on Thursday.
   Nancy and Nice both missed a chance to keep up the pressure on the top two
as they both dropped points, Nancy in a 1-1 home draw with Marseille and Nice
in a 1-1 stalemate away to Rennes.
   Lyon now have 45 points from 22 matches with Bordeaux six adrift but having
a match in hand. Nancy and Nice have 37 and 36 points respectively from their
22 games.
   Lyon were missing a clutch of regulars through injury before a 38,000 crowd
at the Stade de Gerland, including defender Cleber Anderson, midfielder
Juninho and striker Sidney Govou.
   But they dusted themselves down following last weekend's shock loss, their
third in the league this term, to lowly Lens and normal service resumed when
Hatem Ben Arfa, fed by Fred, put the table-toppers ahead on the half hour with
a fierce left-foot shot.
   Lorient, coming into the game five points off the Eurpoean placings having
humbled Paris Saint Germain at the weekend, had their backs to the wall as
first France international Karim Benzema, then Fred, hit the bar in quick
succession before the break.
   It was Benzema who finally clinched the points with his 14th goal of the
campaign, a cool, low right-foot finish after he raced down a chipped pass
from Kim Kallstrom.
   Nancy looked set to go level on points with Bordeaux after Jonathan Brison
scored after a neat freekick routine two minutes after the break but Nasri
levelled after Bolo Zenden crossed into the danger zone and Julien Rodriguez
nodded on.
   Marseille remain stuck in midtable with 239 points after mustering just
seven league wins to date.
   Paris Saint Germain, likewise slumbering in the lower half of the table all
season, hinted at a nascent recovery as they swatted aside tailenders Metz 3-0
at the Parc des Princes with Jerome Rothen setting up a tap-in for Peguy
Luyindula after just four minutes.
   Rothen then crashed home a tremendous drive for the second in the 34th
minute. The one-way traffic continued as Amara Diane hit the third nine
minutes after the restart, a low finish capping a slalom run to the edge of
the area.
   Relegation-threatened Lens showed their weekend win over Lyon was no flash
in the pan as they win 2-1 at Valenciennes.
   Jean-Pierre Papin's side thanked goals from Brazilian Vitorino Hilton da
Silva and teenage starlet Kevin Monnet-Paquet either side of half time after
Savidan had put Valenciennes into a 34th-minute lead to pull themselves out of
the bottom three.
   Valenciennes did their cause of vaulting into the top four no good when
they had Guillaume Rippert sent off on the hour for fouling Monnet-Paquet as
the latter burst through on his own.
   Monaco moved into the top five with a 1-0 home win over Sochaux courtesy of
a late winner from Frederic Piquionne, who finished off from close range after
a brilliant dinking run and cut in by Brazilian Nene.
   UEFA president Michel Platini, was on hand to watch Strasbourg beat
Toulouse 2-0 ahead of a Thursday address to the Council of Europe. Platini
began his career with Strasbourg's high-flying neighbours AS Nancy.
   Elsewhere, Lille, fourth from bottom at start of play, bagged a much-needed
3-1 win at home to Le Mans while Caen dropped below Monaco after a goalless
home draw with struggling Auxerre.


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