Mon, Feb 28, 2011 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Boukari’s screamer sends Rennes to the top of Ligue 1

Reuters, PARIS

Stade Rennais rocketed to the top of Ligue 1 for a day at least after a 25m screamer from Razak Boukari set up a 2-0 home win over lowly Lens on Saturday.

Rennes, who have never won the French championship, but are making a surprise title bid under charismatic Corsican coach Frederic Antonetti, moved a point above Lille.

Togo striker Boukari fired into the top corner after a fortunate ricochet on 14 minutes and the club from the northwest of France, ninth last term, never looked back.

They doubled their lead against when Colombian Victor Montano beat the offside trap and showed pace and power to finish midway through the second half.

“It took us 10 minutes to get into the game, but then we played well,” Antonetti said. “It’s necessary to concentrate on our next match [at Montpellier] because everything will be decided on the field.”

Unfashionable Rennes and Lille have threatened to overturn the status quo in French soccer this season, but traditional powerhouses Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain are also still in the hunt for the championship in a crowded top half.

In Saturday’s other Ligue 1 games, third-bottom Monaco went 2-0 up thanks to Park Chu-young’s brace, but drew 2-2 at home to Stade Malherbe Caen, while bottom side Arles-Avignon stay 15 points from safety after being held 1-1 by Stade Brestois 29 in Provence.

Under-pressure Girondins de Bordeaux coach Jean Tigana was given a boost after his mid-table side won 3-0 against fourth-bottom Auxerre, third last season, in driving rain.

Bordeaux ultras entered 15 minutes late in protest at the 2009 champions’ poor form, which led assistant coach Michel Pavon to leave in midweek, but Alou Diarra’s goal, a dubious penalty from Anthony Modeste and Jaroslav Plasil’s superb curler settled matters.

Nice eased their relegation fears and further hit faltering Saint-Etienne’s push for the Champions League places with a surprise 2-0 win at Les Verts.

Sochaux and sixth-placed Montpellier drew 0-0 with a red card apiece, while Lorient’s trip to Valenciennes also ended in stalemate.

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