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Lyon sitting pretty again atop French league table

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-02

Lyon recovered its customary place at the top of France's Ligue 1 after a 2-0 victory against bottom-placed Sochaux. Elsewhere, Marseille could only secure a 1-1 draw in Nantes, while Paris St Germain conceded a 1-0 home defeat to Toulouse.

French international striker Karim Benzema proved seven-times champions Lyon's saviour on Wednesday as he scored one and made the other in their 2-0 victory over bottom side Sochaux.
Both the goals came in the second-half as Benzema scored the first and then in time added on his delicately-threaded pass released Argentinian Cesar Delgado to slot home and ensure they restored their three-point lead in the table ahead of Bordeaux, who had briefly gone top on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Le Havre.
On a good night for Lyon, two of their main rivals for the title in Marseille and Paris Saint Germain also dropped points.
Marseille, who lost 4-2 to PSG on Sunday, came back to draw 1-1 with Nantes while PSG failed in their bid to put together a three-match winning streak for the first time since August 2005 as they lost 1-0 at home to Toulouse, who go third also three points behind Lyon.
Benzema at last opened the scoring for Lyon with less than 25 minutes remaining with his seventh goal of the season and it was a memorable one too as he took the ball 25 metres out and rifled it home with the aid of the crossbar.
Then the French star was on hand to set up the second and decisive goal as Sochaux attempted to force the equaliser leaving the losers without a win over Lyon in their last 12 matches dating back to 2002.
Lyon coach Claude Puel while happy his side had not conceded a goal for the second successive match admitted all was not right with the champions.
"It is true that we have the ability to make the task more complicated than it is," he said. "I think the match should have been wrapped up by half-time."
PSG and Toulouse had fought out a scoreless first-half and the home crowd having to endure near freezing conditions were hardly cheered up when Zoumana Camara headed into his own net in the 65th minute - it was another unhappy experience for the 29-year-old against Toulouse as his error here last year had led to a goal.
PSG handler Paul Le Guen admitted to being disappointed but added that stories about PSG having title aspirations had been wide of the mark.
"I read that we were beginning to think of the title," said the former Lyon and Rangers coach.
"But I have to say that it didn't cross my mind, not even for a quarter of a second. I do know a little about football, and I know our real worth."
Nantes have seemingly rediscovered their home form in winning two successive matches for the first time in the top division since 2005 and looked to be on course as they took the lead against Marseille.
And it was a quite stunning effort after Marseille had dominated the first-half, with defender Remi Mareval unleashing an unstoppable effort from 35 metres to give the 25-year-old his first ever goal among the elite in what is his first ever first division campaign.
However, Marseille's dominance paid-off eventually in the second-half as Ivory Coast striker Bakari Kone scored his fifth goal in 10 league appearances for the club since moving from Nice in the summer, rattling home a fine right-footed shot 14 minutes from time.
Marseille's straight-shooting coach Eric Gerets, who hailed Mareval's goal as the type you only see once every three years, saw it as a win that had got away from his side, who have had a poor past week, not only losing to PSG but also to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
"We had the game within our grasp... If I am not happy with our performance this evening, then I might as well pack up and leave. It is true that we are in a period where we have been unlucky and not very successful," said Gerets, who buried the hatchet with midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and started him after a serious falling out following the PSG match.
A double by David Bellion had inspired Bordeaux to a 4-0 hammering of struggling Le Havre on Tuesday.

Date created : 2008-10-29