A shake-up at the top of the French league this weekend saw reigning champions Lyon retain top spot, but five points separate the top six spelling a European qualification dogfight if the situation lasts
AFP - A Juninho freekick equaliser for Lyon cancelled out Kevin Mirallas's opener for St Etienne in a 1-1 draw in Sunday's late match though Paris Saint Germain were the major winners of the weekend.
Paul Le Guen's PSG beat Caen 2-0 to jump three places to third as they were the only team in the top six to win, boosting morale before a new club president is due to be named in the next few days.
Lyon have 43 points, one point ahead of second-placed Bordeaux who drew 2-2 at home to Lille, four points in front of third-placed PSG, with Marseille, who lost 1-0 at struggling Sochaux, and Rennes and Toulouse, who had a goalless draw, all on 38 points.
With three teams set for Champions League qualification and the fourth-placed team set for the UEFA Cup, the run-in looks like it will be a close-run affair.
A manic four-minute spell at the Gerland stadium saw both Lyon and St Etienne's goals and Lyon's Frederic Piquionne sent off.
After being fed by St Etienne's Brazilian Araujo Ilan, Dimitri Payet in turn got the ball to Mirallas on the left and the former Lille player managed to fire a right-foot shot over Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris in the 50th minute.
Three minutes later Lyon scored from a freekick on the left by Juninho who managed to wrongfoot keeper Jeremie Janot, a minute before Piquionne received his marching orders for a second yellow card on tackling Mouhamadou Dabo.
In a match-day footnote, St Etienne coach Alain Perrin was making his return to the Gerland stadium having been at the helm of Lyon last year.
Marseille lost 1-0 at third-from-bottom Sochaux after a 24th minute Mevlut Erding goal for their second loss in just a few days following their midweek French Cup defeat to Lyon.
Marseille coach Eric Gerets said: "I'm not happy this evening. I don't think we deserved to win this match but we did not deserve to lose either. We had been controlling the match pretty much until Sochaux's goal. This was not a glorious day.
"To lose twice in the same week is hard but sometimes you have to accept things."
Date created : 2009-02-01