Mon, May 05, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Nice boost Bordeaux title hopes by holding Lyon

AFP , PARIS

Nice player Onyekachi Apam, left, challenges Karim Benzema of Lyon during their French League One match on Saturday, in Nice, France.

PHOTO: AP

French league minnows Nice held Lyon to a scoreless draw on Saturday to boost Bordeaux’s hopes of causing a late championship upset.

Lyon’s latest setback, after their 2-2 draw with Caen last week, leaves them on 73 points, only five ahead of second placed Bordeaux ahead of their trip to Marseille yesterday.

Results elsewhere meanwhile meant that for four teams — Paris St Germain, Toulouse, Lens and Strasbourg — the relegation battle is still a major concern.

Paris St Germain’s bid to pull clear of the dreaded drop zone took another knock when they let slip a 1-0 lead late in their away tussle with Toulouse, which finished 1-1.

Lens’ scoreless draw with Monaco later on Saturday meant PSG dropped back into the bottom three, with only Strasbourg and already relegated Metz below them.

Nancy were one of the biggest winners on Saturday, their 3-0 demolition of Strasbourg pushing them up to third.

PSG’s possible relegation has provided the biggest soccer story in France in recent weeks, and their latest setback bodes ill for the future.

“It’s infuriating,” raged Paul Le Guen, whose side were on the verge of a precious win thanks to Bernard Mendy’s strike, only for Mohamed Fofana to bundle in an equalizer for Toulouse in the 89th minute.

PSG keeper Mickael Landreau did well to keep out a late strike from Toulouse’s Paolo Cesar.

He admits the next two matches would show PSG whether they have the mettle to emerge victorious from the relegation battle.

“We were unlucky to concede what I thought was a lucky goal by Toulouse at the end,” Landreau said. “Now it’s clear. This is going to go all the way to the final two matches. It will be tough, but the teams who are the strongest mentally are the ones who will beat relegation.”

Toulouse coach Elie Baup, who led Bordeaux to their last league title nearly a decade ago, said his side are primed for the remainder of the relegation battle.

“To come back into the match like we did is encouraging for our next two matches. We’re all suffering from the relegation battle but the players showed tonight they’ve got something left to give,” Baup said.

Lyon meanwhile know they have it all to do after Nice repelled a string of goalscoring chances from the six-time champions to force a scoreless draw, which reinforced their mid-table position.

A victory for Bordeaux against Marseille yesterday would give Laurent Blanc’s side 71 points and help close the gap on Lyon to just two points ahead of next week’s penultimate round of games when Bordeaux host Sochaux and Lyon host Nancy.

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