Football: Lyon top Ligue 1 to put pressure on PSG, Marseille
Lyon reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 on Saturday with a 3-1 win at 10-man Guingamp putting the pressure on fellow challengers Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille who go head-to-head on Sunday.
Lyon, who won the last of their seven Ligue 1 titles in 2008, now have 61 points from 31 games, two ahead of champions Paris Saint-Germain (59) who travel to third-placed Marseille (57) on Sunday.
Despite missing key players such as right-back Christophe Jallet, defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons and forward Yoann Gourcuff, Lyon dominated in Brittany with hosts Guingamp hit by the sending off of Christophe Kerbrat just before half-time.
Hubert Fournier’s Lyon, who lost 2-1 at home to Nice in their last outing, sealed a comfortable victory largely thanks to first-half goals from French internationals Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette.
Cameroon forward Clinton Njie sealed the deal just after the hour mark.
“It was important to win to remain in the title race,” said Fournier.
“There are seven games to go and we’re still here. It was a game we controlled, against a team that were waiting for us.
“We showed patience and we managed to be efficient and opportunistic as soon as we could.
“The first goal put us on the right track and afterwards we remained focussed as we controlled most of the game.”
Guingamp’s Jonas Lossl gifted the opener to Fekir as the Danish ‘keeper failed to catch a tame effort and deflected it into his own net with just 27 minutes gone.
Twelve minutes later, Lacazette doubled the lead with his seventh penalty this season, and his 24th goal of the campaign.
Njie got the third after 61 minutes, although Claudio Beauvue pulled one back for the hosts when he pounced on a double defensive mistake by Samuel Umtiti and Mouhamadou Dabo 10 minutes from time to grab his 12th goal of the season.
Midtable Guingamp had been looking to dent Lyon’s title challenge as the club’s league form had picked up again after a slump.
But with defensive midfielder Benjamin Angoua serving the third of his four-match ban and his replacement Kerbrat seeing red just before halftime for a foul on midfielder Jordan Ferri, the Brittany side were never in a position to make the seven-time champions tremble.
– ‘Le Classique’ –
Lyon provisionally leapfrog PSG, but the Parisians can strike a major blow in the title race by continuing their impressive recent record at the Stade Velodrome.
Laurent Blanc’s side have dominated the fixture known as ‘Le Classique’ in recent years, with their 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes in November their sixth in a row against Marseille.
In Saturday’s late games, bottom side Metz beat Toulouse 3-2 to win their first game since November thanks to a Modibo Maiga hat-trick.
In the middle of the table, ninth-ranked Rennes beat Brittany rivals Lorient 3-0 while Nice remain 12th after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by strugglers Evian.
Europeans contenders Lille and Montpellier both picked up crucial points as they cruised past Reims and Bastia respectively with 3-1 victories.
On Friday, Monaco, fourth with 54 points, drew 1-1 at home to Saint-Etienne, one spot below in fifth, as both lost ground on the leading trio.
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