PARIS: Lyon, looking to win the French title for the first time in five seasons, went top of the heap on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Troyes propelling them ahead of big spenders Paris Saint Germain.
Lyon shrugged off the embarrassment of a Cup exit to third division Epinal after Maxime Gonalons and Samuel Umtiti, at the second attempt, found the net from two well-rehearsed corner routines – one from Steed Malbranque, the other from Arnold Mvuemba.
Benjamin Nivet gave Troyes brief hope with a fine volley, sandwiching the two goals for the visitors, but this latest reverse leaves them six points from safety after only two wins in their opening 20 league matches.
Remi Garde’s men now lead the table by two points after inconsistent PSG yet again frustrated their fans Friday with a goalless stalemate at home to Ajaccio.
Lyon should have won by a wider margin but Lisandro saw his effort deflected to safety at the last by Yohann Thuram-Ullien following a cross from the right by Michel Bastos midway through the first half.
Later Saturday, second half goals from Yoan Gouffran and Henri Saivet handed Bordeaux an impressive 2-0 win at a Rennes side who allowed their rivals to poach fourth place off them.
Bordeaux, the champions in 2009, now trail third-placed Marseille by six points.
Marseille, the 2010 champions, can join Lyon on 41 points if they win at relegation-threatened Sochaux on Sunday.
Lorient, hoping to trim a seven-point gap on Marseille, instead went down to a 2-0 loss to defending champions Montpellier, who have struggled this term and were thumped at Lille just before the winter break.
Montpellier coach Rene Girard pulled a rabbit out of the hat in sending on Gaetan Charbonnier for Emanuel Herrera on the hour and he promptly scored twice in the final 11 minutes as the hosts moved up to eighth – just three points behind Bordeaux.
Elsewhere, rock-bottom Nancy settled for a 2-2 home draw with Lille after Thomas Ayasse grabbed an 82nd-minute equaliser.
Nolan Roux scored in the opening minute for Lille, who now stand seventh a point above Montpellier, but Romain Grange levelled on 21 minutes.
Dimitri Payet put Lille ahead on the half hour but Ayasse ensured Nancy claimed a draw that leaves them seven points from safety.
As well as Marseille taking on Sochaux, Sunday sees Reims host Bastia and Nice meet Valenciennes. -AFP
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