Football: Lyon Surge Clear As Marseille Implode
Posted November 17, 2008on:
PARIS: Lyon defeated title contenders Bordeaux 2-1 on Sunday to surge seven points clear at the top of the French league table in what may very well turn out to be the pivotal weekend of the 2007/08 season.
First half goals from Karim Benzema and Kim Kallstrom gave Claude Le Puel’s side an enormous fillip in their pursuit of an eighth consecutive French title.
Regardless of the result at the Stade Gerland the champions were already feeling on good terms with themselves after second-placed Marseille’s spectacular implosion at the Velodrome 24 hours earlier.
Eric Gerets’ men had victory there for the taking, leading 2-0 with less than a quarter of an hour remaining only for Lorient to conjure up a stirring recovery to win 3-2.
That left Marseille on 26 points as Lyon moved up to 33 after seeing off last season’s runners-up Bordeaux to retain their unbeaten record at home.
Against the run of play Lyon’s Sidney Govou produced one of the best early opportunities only for Bordeaux keeeper Matthieu Valverde, knocked out cold last week against Auxerre, to save his angled header with an outstretched hand.
Down at the other end Bordeaux stopper Hugo Lloris had to look lively to tip Yoann Gourcuff’s determined 25m shot over the bar.
One of the subplots to the match was the battle between Gourcuff and the other jewel in France’s forward line, Benzema.
And it was the Lyon striker who struck first blood when slotting home from close range after a neat 1-2 with Brazilian Fred in the 33rd minute.
Bordeaux’s woes deepened five minutes later after a fine piece of individual skill from Kim Kallstrom.
After taking on the Bordeaux defence down the left, the Swedish international unleashed a high left-footed shot which dipped just under Valverde’s crossbar.
Bordeaux deservedly, given their contribution to the night’s entertainment, reduced the deficit in the 80th minute when unmarked substitute Fernando Cavenaghi got a toe to Wendel’s freekick at the far post.
This win was the perfect pick-me-up for Lyon after their midweek loss to second division Metz in the League Cup.
In Sunday’s earlier games, Nice beat Nantes 2-1 and Rennes defeated Monaco by the same margin to go third, one point behind Marseille who were sailing to victory against Lorient after an early strike from Karim Ziani and a penalty on the hour mark from Mamadou Niang.
As things stood that would have pushed them up to within a point of Lyon, but then followed a collapse of seismic proportions as Lorient hit back with three goals inside 11 minutes.
Morgan Amalfitano, in the 76th minute, and then Fabrice Abriel, pulled the struggling visitors back on level terms before Kevin Gameiro grabbed the unlikely winner three minutes from time.
Gerets stated: “To lose a match like that is catastrophic! For 70 minutes we were in control. Then we lost it. What a shame.”
Marseille’s arch rivals Paris Saint Germain meanwhile notched up their third straight win in a week.
After Lille and Nancy in the League Cup the capital club gained the scalp of Le Havre with a 3-1 win with up-and-coming Guillaume Hoarau getting a double, his strikes sandwiching Ludovic Giuly’s first half contribution.
Down at the foot of the table, bottom-club Valenciennes fell to their ninth defeat of the season with a 1-0 defeat at Le Mans – Auxerre beat Sochaux by the same score.
Alain Perrin, the former Lyon and Portsmouth boss who was hired on a two-year contract to revive struggling Saint Etienne this week, saw the scale of the task ahead of him as the former European heavyweight crashed 3-0 at Lille in Saturday’s late game.
Nice 2 Nantes 1
Rennes 2 Monaco 1
Lyon 2 Bordeaux 1
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