Tue, May 03, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Auxerre shift the title race in Lille’s favor

AFP, PARIS

Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Hugo Lloris watches the ball enter the goal during his side’s Ligue 1 against Toulouse on Sunday in Toulouse, France.

Photo: AFP

A 77th-minute goal by South Korean substitute Jung Jo-gook earned Auxerre a 1-1 draw at champions Olympique de Marseille on Sunday that shifted the French title race momentum firmly in Lille’s favor.

Jung had only been on the pitch for eight minutes when he beat Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to cancel out Mathieu Valbuena’s 56th-minute opener.

Marseille had dominated proceedings at the Stade Velodrome, but they now find themselves a point behind Lille — who returned to the summit by thrashing Arles-Avignon 5-0 on Saturday — with five matches of the season remaining.

“We did some very good things, but we weren’t rewarded and it’s cruel,” l’OM coach Didier Deschamps said. “We had chances to make the game safe, but a defensive lapse cost us victory. We have five battles to fight, including an important one at Lyon [on Sunday].”

Third-placed Olympique Lyonnais saw their nascent title ambitions effectively snuffed out at Toulouse, going down 2-0 and finishing the game with nine men after Michel Bastos and Aly Cissokho were both sent off in the second half.

Lyon are now seven points behind Lille and level on points with Paris Saint-Germain in the contest for the third and the final Champions League qualifying place.

“Tonight, we never managed to get into the match,” Lyon coach Claude Puel said. “We can see the title getting further away, but there are five matches to go and we’ll have to give everything in them.”

Toulouse had not lost at home to Lyon in four previous encounters and they took the lead in the 28th minute when Argentine centerback Mauro Cetto met Franck Tabanou’s free-kick with a glancing header.

Lyon coach Claude Puel introduced striker Bafetimbi Gomis for midfielder Kim Kallstrom at halftime, but he saw Brazil international Bastos dismissed in the 65th minute after two poorly timed challenges in the space of a minute.

Toulouse immediately capitalized via a comical own-goal from Cissokho, who miscalculated an attempted clearance and succeeded only in lobbing goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Cissokho’s afternoon then ended in ugly circumstances, with the leftback shown a straight red card for taking a swipe at Daniel Braaten.

In Marseille, the hosts dominated the opening exchanges, with Olivier Sorin saving from Jordan Ayew twice and producing an acrobatic stop to deny Lucho Gonzalez just after the half-hour mark.

Auxerre’s resistance finally crumbled after 12 minutes of the second half when Valbuena deftly dispatched a deflected Andre Ayew cross at the back post.

Seemingly cantering to victory, Marseille suffered a sucker punch with 13 minutes to play when Jung hared onto a long ball and beat Mandanda to claim his first goal for the club.

Jung’s goal took Auxerre to 14th, level on points with Valenciennes, Monaco, Stade Malherbe Caen and Nice, but just one point above the relegation zone.

“I don’t know if the result is deserved, but in our situation every point is welcome,” Auxerre coach Jean Fernandez said.

Caen gave their bid to avoid the drop a shot in the arm with a fine 4-0 win at Nice, who had Renato Civelli sent off shortly before halftime.

Romain Hamouma claimed a brace, with Yohan Mollo and Youssef El Arabi also on target, as Franck Dumas’ team escaped the bottom three at the expense of Nancy.

Beaten League Cup finalists Montpellier were held to a 0-0 draw by visitors Stade Brestois 29 to leave both sides in midtable.

This story has been viewed 2108 times.
TOP top