French league leaders Lyon missed out on the chance to put daylight between themselves and their Ligue 1 title rivals when they were held to a surprising 0-0 draw at home to second-bottom Valenciennes on Saturday.
The reigning champions, who are chasing an eighth consecutive Ligue 1 title, went into the game shorn of the services of leading scorer Karim Benzema through injury and their captain Juninho through suspension.
They were also missing full-backs Anthony Reveillere and Francois Clerc, but France international holding midfielder Jeremy Toulalan overcame a sore foot to start.
Lyon dominated possession and peppered the visitors’ goal with more than 30 shots, but in driving rain that turned much of the Stade Gerland pitch to mud, they were frustrated by a Valenciennes side who have recorded just two league victories all season.
Lyon coach Claude Puel was furious that the game was played in such wet conditions.
“This isn’t football,” Puel fumed. “We played the match and we lost two points. The conditions made it a game to forget.”
The point picked up at the champions takes Antoine Kombouare’s side to within a point of fourth-bottom Le Havre, who slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Nantes thanks to a deftly taken volley from Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic and a fine 25m effort by French midfield man David De Freitas.
A 24th-minute strike from defender Nikola Pokrivac proved decisive for Monaco in their mid-table battle at Auxerre, while second-half goals from Modibo Maiga and Gervinho secured a 2-0 win for Le Mans over Caen that enabled them to leapfrog their opponents into ninth place.
Second-placed Nice, the season’s surprise package, lost the opportunity to close the gap on Lyon when their game at home to promoted Grenoble was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
Last season’s runners-up Bordeaux missed their chance to move above Nice into second place when they were held to a 0-0 draw at third-bottom Sochaux.