Tue, Dec 16, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Lyon grind out a scoreless draw, stay clear at the top

AFP , PARIS

Lyon ground out a goalless draw on Sunday at the Stade Gerland over title rivals Marseille to preserve their three-point lead at the top of the French league as they chase an eighth straight title.

Marseille, without a championship crown since 1993, could have gone joint top of the heap with a win, but will head back to the deep south frustrated after failing to close the gap in a tense affair.

Despite Lyon’s recent dominance, Marseille have actually had the better of recent meetings between the two — they have now won two and drawn three of the last six encounters.

But more pertinently, Eric Gerets’ side have only eked out two points from their past four league games, while also exiting the Champions League.

Even Lyon themselves are without a league success inside a month.

The visitors had in playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa a man desperate to make an impression against his former club — the French international was a regular last season, but used too sparingly for his liking in previous campaigns and decamped to the Stade Velodrome last summer.

However, he was unable to provide the spark of inspiration to earn his colleagues a win bonus.

Marseille were left to rue misses in an entertaining opening period that saw home keeper Hugo Lloris save well in quick succession from Zenden and Valbuena.

On the plus side, they showed great defensive rigor in closing out Lyon’s usually dangerous France international striker Karim Benzema and the Brazilian playmaker, who were all but suffocated by the visitors’ defense.

Lyon thus lead the way after 18 games with 35 points, ahead of a trio on 32 — Bordeaux, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille themselves, with Rennes a point further back and Toulouse in sixth a point behind them.

Lille bolstered their hopes of a UEFA Cup spot with a 1-0 win at Nice that put them seventh, level on 29 points with their vanquished hosts. Tail-enders Le Havre seem destined for the drop following a 3-1 defeat against Lorient.

French Ligue 1

 
Team
P
GD
PTS
1
Lyon
18
10
35
2
Marseille
18
12
32
3
Bordeaux
18
11
32
4
PSG
18
7
32
5
Rennes
18
10
31
6
Toulouse
18
4
30
7
Lille
18
7
29
8
Nice
18
4
29
9
Lorient
18
3
26
10
Le Mans
18
-2
24
11
Caen
18
3
23
12
Monaco
18
0
23
13
AS Nancy
18
-2
22
14
Grenoble
18
-5
22
15
Auxerre
18
-3
20
16
Nantes
18
-10
19
17
St Etienne
18
-15
16
18
Valenciennes
18
-9
14
19
Sochaux
18
-7
13
20
Le Havre
18
-18
12

 

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