Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Lyon wrap up French title with win

SEVENTH HEAVEN Lyon had a two point lead over Bordeaux going into their final match of the season but it didn't take them long to ensure another league triumph

AFP , PARIS

Lyon's player Fred celebrates his goal against Auxerre during their French League 1 match at the Abbe Deschamps stadium in Auxerre on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Lyon wrapped up their seventh straight French championship on Saturday with a 3-1 win at Auxerre while Paris St Germain saved their top flight status by winning 2-1 at Sochaux to relegate Lens.

Bordeaux placed second, four points adrift, after they could only draw 2-2 at Lens, sending their opponents down, along with Metz and Strasbourg.

“I have the satisfaction of a job well done and I will always have that feeling,” said Lyon coach Alain Perrin, whose future at the club is in doubt.

“But as far as my future is concerned as the coach of Lyon, I don’t have an answer although I am under contract,” he said. “This is mission accomplished. As coach I was handed the task of winning a seventh title and it is a deserved championship for Lyon. We have shown quality and consistency in the big games.”

Also smiling along with PSG, who were reprieved at the last after appearing destined for the drop for much of the campaign, were Marseille, France’s only side ever to lift the European Cup.

They bagged third place and with it a third qualifying round spot in the Champions League after edging Strasbourg 4-3.

“My heart was beating at 200kph,” said Marseille coach Eric Gerets after his team came back from a goal down to beat Strasbourg. “To finish third is a mini-miracle. I have great pride in the players and the supporters who are the best, by a long way, in France.”

With Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux breathing down their necks two points adrift at start of play Lyon had to compose themselves for the final push to glory.

And they enjoyed the perfect start, France international striker Karim Benzema firing them into the lead after just 23 seconds, the first of what would prove a blizzard of goals across the league, 43 in all in ten games.

From the kick-off, Benzema bore down on the Auxerre goal, played a one-two with Brazilian teammate Fred and planted the return into the net with the inside of his left boot for his 20th goal of the campaign.

Nine minutes later Fred made it 2-0 on the half volley after a neat interchange between Benzema and Kader Keita.

A Kim Kallstrom header eight minutes after the restart, prior to a Frederic Thomas consolation, wrapped things up for Alain Perrin’s side whose golden shirts ultimately proved appropriate.

Bordeaux meanwhile had to keep on believing in a miracle at the Stade Bollaert, home to Lens, but it didn’t materialize.

The 2-2 draw spelled relegation for the northern club, one of the best-supported in the country and stewarded by former Marseille hero Jean-Pierre Papin and Daniel Leclercq, architect of their 1998 success.

Marseille celebrated after a topsy-turvy game at the Stade Velodrome which saw them recover from a goal down to beat Strasbourg 4-3 aided by a double from former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse and a piledriver from midfielder Samir Nasri.

Mamadou Niang put Marseille ahead but their relegated rivals rallied through James Fanchone and Kevin Gameiro to lead inside 20 minutes.

Cisse, returning from suspension, levelled with an instinctive header after visiting keeper Stephane Cassard had parried a spotkick awarded for a foul on the burly forward.

Nasri then blasted home on the volley to send the hosts in 3-2 ahead at the interval.

The goal deluge continued as Nigerian Simon Zenke levelled only for Cisse to poach his second with 13 minutes remaining.

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