Lyon tops victory

A splendid Karim Benzema goal helped Olympique Lyon to a 2-0 home win over Le Mans that sent the seven-times champions four points clear at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday.


Karim Benzema's superb individual goal topped Lyon's 2-0 victory over Le Mans, propelling them four points clear of the pack in France, though recuperation time was at a premium before midweek Champions League action.

Claude Puel's men welcome Steaua Bucharest at the Gerland stadium on Wednesday and this Sunday night fixture means they will have less rest than most.

However the team will be glad October's drop in form, where they lost points in the league, has been followed by a mini-revival no doubt Puel would love to continue against the Romanians in three days time.

Lyon have now put together two victories in a row, following their 2-0 win over Sochaux in midweek, which followed two draws and a defeat.

Le Mans, who led by two goals before losing 3-2 in the same fixture last season, were holding their own early on till a wonderful solo goal from Benzema.

A jinking run down the right saw him faint to go inside his defender, before he cut out to the right and hit a chipped shot over keeper Yohann Pele in-off the far post in a simply sublime piece of skill after 21 minutes.

Juninho, benefiting as the ball spun randomly to him in Le Mans's area, took his time as he aimed and then slotted the ball through keeper Pele's legs for the second goal 11 minutes after the break.

Monaco's Korean star Park Chu-young meanwhile scored his side's final goal in a 3-2 victory at Le Havre in an earlier match on Sunday.

Lyon, on 27 points from 12 matches, lead the league table by four points from Marseille and by six from both Bordeaux, who lost 1-0 at struggling Nancy, and Toulouse, who lost 1-0 at home to Caen.

On Saturday, Hatem Ben Arfa made handsome amends for last weekend's dug-out tantrum when grabbing a penalty in Marseille's 3-1 win over Saint Etienne.

Ben Arfa, upset at not having being picked, refused to come on as a second half substitute in Marseille's 4-2 loss to Paris Saint Germain but after a midweek public apology the influential playmaker this time let his feet do the talking.

Midfielder Benoit Cheyrou had put Eric Gerets' men into a 21st minute lead only for Bafetimbi Gomis to level seconds later before Ben Arfa converted a 38th minute spot-kick awarded when Bakary Kone was brought down by Saint Etienne keeper Jeremie Janot.

Former Lyon star Ben Arfa then conjured up a pinpoint corner for unmarked Nigeria defender Taye Taiwo to head past Janot to seal a win that lifted Marseille up into second, one point behind leaders Lyon who play Le Mans on Sunday.

This was just the job for Marseille who on Tuesday host PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League but as for former European heavyweights Saint Etienne, they headed home having failed to end their losing run at the Velodrome stretching back to 1979.

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