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Bordeaux take top spot and pile pressure on Marseille

Latest update : 2009-05-17

Thanks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Le Mans on Saturday, Bordeaux have provisionally taken the lead in the French league, three points ahead of Marseille, who now have to beat Lyon on Sunday to regain the top spot.

AFP - Bordeaux took a step closer to clinching their first French league title in a decade with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Le Mans on Saturday.

Coached by former France defender Laurent Blanc, Bordeaux's 22nd win of the season took them top of the table with a three-point lead over Marseille and two league matches remaining.

That could all change on Sunday if Marseille beat seven-times consecutive champions Lyon, who are already out of the title race.

However Eric Gerets' Marseille side, the only other team who can now win the French league, will be under huge pressure to deliver against Claude Puel's under-achieving champions.

Sitting third but seven points behind Marseille and 10 adrift of Bordeaux, Lyon will be expected to battle for all three points with a place in the Champions League qualifying stages at stake.

It remains to be seen whether Paris Saint Germain's shock 2-1 defeat at home to Auxerre affects Lyon's motivation - the Parisians' setback left them fourth on 63 points and even in danger of being leapfrogged by Toulouse.

With Blanc at the helm this season, Bordeaux were among the early contenders for the title before dropping back with some lacklustre results at the turn of the year.

However, some unexpected slip-ups from Lyon, and a late resurgence which has seen Bordeaux win their past nine game, has put Blanc's side right back in the race.

On-loan AC Milan midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was inspirational, helping set up Marouane Chamakh's equaliser in the 38th minute before giving the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time then setting up Marc Planus for the match winner on 76 minutes.

Le Mans, to their credit, came in search of the points and had taken the lead through Anthony Le Tallec in the 24th minute before he scored his second of the game eight minutes after the restart.

Gourcuff admitted that having to turn around the match had been a strength-sapping affair.

"Having to come back from being led really forces you to dig in physically, it's very tiring mentally," said the midfielder.

"Even when they came back to level at 2-2, we kept our nerve. With two matches to go, it's really coming down to who is mentally strongest.

"We have it in us to turn around situations like that, which is pretty surprising but I hope it helps us win something big."

In other matches, relegation-threatened Saint-Etienne were left in despair after an 89th minute equaliser from French international Andre Pierre Gignac gave UEFA Cup-chasing Toulouse a share of the spoils.

Monaco, still down in mid-table, opened the scoring through Korean Park Chu-young in their match with Valenciennes, who levelled in the 61st minute.

Caen meanwhile were left cherishing a 2-0 win, only their eighth of the season, over fellow strugglers Sochaux as the Normandy side continue their battle to beat the drop.

Lorient could only manage a 1-1 draw with already-relegated Le Havre while Grenoble and Nancy played to a scoreless draw that left both side neither in danger nor in sight of a European place next season.

Date created : 2009-05-16

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