Fielding a depleted squad, French leaders Lyon were held to a surprising goalless home draw against bottom-placed Valenciennes, though last season's runners-up Bordeaux were unable to do better away to struggling Sochaux.
AFP - French league leaders Lyon missed out on the chance to put daylight between themselves and their Ligue 1 title rivals when they were held to a surprising 0-0 draw at home to second-bottom Valenciennes on Saturday.
The reigning champions, who are chasing an eighth consecutive Ligue 1 title, went into the game shorn of the services of leading scorer Karim Benzema through injury and captain Juninho through suspension.
They were also missing full-backs Anthony Reveillere and Francois Clerc, but France international holding midfielder Jeremy Toulalan overcame a sore foot to start.
Lyon dominated possession and peppered the visitors' goal with over 30 shots, but in driving rain that turned much of the Stade Gerland pitch to mud they were frustrated by a Valenciennes side who have recorded just two league victories all season.
Lyon coach Claude Puel was furious that the game was played in such wet conditions.
"This isn't football," he fumed. "We played the match and we lost two points. The conditions made it a game to forget."
The point picked up at the champions takes Antoine Kombouare's side to within a point of fourth-bottom Le Havre, who slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Nantes thanks to a deftly taken volley from Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic and a fine 25-yard effort by French midfield man David De Freitas.
A 24th-minute strike from defender Nikola Pokrivac proved decisive for Monaco in their mid-table battle at Auxerre, while second-half goals from Modibo Maiga and Gervinho secured a 2-0 win for Le Mans over Caen that enabled them to leapfrog their opponents into ninth place.
Second-placed Nice, the season's surprise package, lost the opportunity to close the gap on Lyon when their game at home to promoted Grenoble was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Last season's runners-up Bordeaux missed their chance to move above Nice into second place when they were held to a 0-0 draw at third-bottom Sochaux.
The game of the weekend sees fourth-placed Rennes welcome fifth-placed Paris St Germain to the Stade de la Route de Lorient on Sunday.
Both teams go into the game in form, with Rennes unbeaten in their last 13 league matches and PSG fresh from an impressive 1-0 victory over Lyon at the Parc des Princes last weekend.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Marseille will look to bounce back from the disappointment of Champions League elimination at the hands of Liverpool when they travel to Toulouse.
Alain Perrin is aiming to pick up his first points as coach of rock-bottom St Etienne when they visit Nancy in Sunday's other game.
Date created : 2008-11-29