Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Title celebrations placed on hold after Rennes hold Lyon

AFP , PARIS

Lyon's six-in-a-row French league title celebrations were put on hold on Wednesday as they were held to a goalless draw at home by midtable Rennes.

The draw nevertheless as good as clinched it for the champions as they now have an 18-point advantage on second-placed Toulouse with six games to play.

Gerard Houllier's side would have to lose all six remaining games and Toulouse to win them by big margins to cause an upset.

Last year nearly to the day, they became the first side to win five times in succession.

But to be mathematically certain of being crowned champions again Houllier's side needed a win.

"Even with a draw I consider that the title will be ours mathematically. If the others don't want to party I will," Houllier had said before the game.

But instead of partying with their fans at their Gerland Stadium his team settled for a dour draw which drew whistles from the crowd at half-time.

Lyon largely dominated but lacked the conviction to tackle the Breton side's defense.

There were few real efforts on goal apart from a freekick from substitute Kim Kallstrom after 76 minutes that was saved by Rennes goalie Simon Pouplin.

Lyon's failure to wrap up the title in style follows a difficult second half of the season after their runaway success before the winter break.

Rennes, sitting ninth, still have the incentive of finishing the season well and grabbing a qualifying spot for one of the European club competitions as they sit five points off third-placed Lens.

In Wednesday's other league match, Bordeaux kept their hopes of playing Champions League football next season alive as they crushed struggling Nancy 3-0.

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