Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Lyon begin title defense with a win

AP, PARIS

Milan Baros and Karim Benzema helped Lyon begin their title defense with a 2-0 victory over visiting Auxerre on Sunday in the opening round of the French league.

Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan delivered a through ball in the area to Baros, who beat Auxerre goalkeeper Olivier Sorin in the 33rd minute. Benzema added the other in the 70th, unleashing a powerful strike from 20m after Auxerre lost the ball in their own half.

"I'm satisfied with the squad and what they showed tonight," Lyon coach Alain Perrin said. "We knew Auxerre were skillful on counterattacks, so we had to be careful. We conceded on very few occasions to Auxerre."

Lyon, trying to win a record seventh straight title, could have sealed the win in the first half.

Winger Kader Keita, a summer signing from Lille, crossed the ball in front of the Auxerre goal in the 14th minute but Sidney Govou, unmarked at the far post, missed the target.

In the 31st minute, Toulalan's half-volley from the edge of the box was tipped over the crossbar by Sorin.

Auxerre's best chance came in the 12th minute on a low free kick from skipper Benoit Pedretti, but goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre knocked it away.

Lyon adopted a 4-4-2 formation under Perrin instead of the 4-5-1 system used last season under Gerard Houllier.

The defending champions played without Brazilian forward Fred, who fractured his right foot in the Copa America.

Goalkeeper Gregory Coupet was also sidelined after tearing a knee ligament during practice.

In Sunday's other match in Ligue 1, Le Mans beat promoted Metz 1-0.

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