LFP: Late Cris goal hands Lyon victory

Reuters, PARIS

Tue, May 10, 2011 - Page 18

Olympique Lyonnais hurt Olympique de Marseille’s championship ambitions and fueled their own outside hopes after a thrilling 3-2 home win on Sunday in which the visitors had a perfectly good goal ruled out early on.

Third-placed Lyon moved seven points behind leaders Lille, who won 1-0 at Nancy on Saturday, to go four clear of defending champions Marseille with four games left.

Brazilian defender Cris grabbed the winner with a sweet strike six minutes from time after the hosts had surrendered a two-goal lead.

Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez netted a 25th-minute opener from the penalty spot for Lyon after referee Stephane Lannoy decided he was fouled by Marseille centerback Souleymane Diawara.

Lannoy had already disallowed an 11th-minute Marseille goal when he wrongly adjudged Andre Ayew to have handled the ball when in fact it struck his chest before forward Loic Remy, returning from a three-game ban, beat Hugo Lloris.

Lyon extended their advantage on 69 minutes through Cesar Delgado after a counterattack, but Marseille hit back a minute later when Lucho Gonzalez turned in a low cross, before Remy bagged an equalizer following a corner.

“It’s difficult, but if we had led 1-0 after 10 minutes who knows?” Marseille coach Didier Deschamps told reporters. “The referee saw what no one else saw. It could have put us in a perfect situation, but he saw a hand, I know there wasn’t one. It’s not been settled tonight. There are still 12 points to play for.”

Both sides had other chances in a high-quality encounter, but goalkeepers Lloris and Steve Mandanda were in excellent form, making several fine saves.

Miralem Pjanic also scuffed just wide from a great position for Lyon, humbled 2-0 at mid-table Toulouse last weekend to put their third and final Champions League qualifying spot at risk.

The absorbing victory though was a boost for Lyon boss Claude Puel, whose future at the Stade de Gerland is uncertain, but Lisandro going off with what looked like a serious thigh injury was not good news for the coach.

Valenciennes, fourth from bottom before kickoff, surged four points away from the drop zone with a 2-0 home win over fifth-placed Stade Rennais.

The defeat meant Rennes’ dwindling hopes of a Champions League berth now look over, but they have a four-point cushion in a probable Europa League spot.