Lyon beats Troyes to move above PSG into 1st place
Lyon took advantage of Paris Saint-Germain's unexpected slip up by beating Troyes 2-1 away from home to move into first place in the French league on Saturday.
Both of Lyon's goals came from corners as midfielder Maxime Gonalons and center half Samuel Umtiti scored either side of veteran Benjamin Nivet's equalizer.
While PSG's expensively assembled team labored to a 0-0 draw against relegation battler Ajaccio on Friday, both of Lyon's goals were scored by players who came through the youth ranks and cost nothing. It was the 19-year-old Umtiti's first league goal and Gonalons' third of the season.
The win moved Lyon two points ahead of PSG and three ahead of Marseille, which can leapfrog PSG and move level on points with Lyon if it wins at Sochaux on Sunday.
Lyon coach Remi Garde was pleased to see his team bounce back from last weekend's French Cup defeat to non-league Epinal, but was far from happy with the overall performance.
"It was a hard week for us. The players really wanted to make amends but felt a certain amount of pressure,'' Garde said. "We're aware that the level we played at tonight won't be enough to win matches in the future.''
At Stade Gerland, Lyon took the lead in the 11th minute when Gonalons made a run to the near post and headed in Steed Malbranque's corner, and forward Lisandro Lopez almost made it 2-0 midway through the half when he just failed to turn in Michel Bastos' cross.
But the 36-year-old Nivet grabbed his seventh league goal of the season with a volley in the 38th to draw the home side level, and he then shot narrowly wide at the start of the second half as Troyes pressured Lyon's defense.
"It was difficult for us,'' Lyon defender Milan Bisevac said. "We have to be honest and say that we didn't play well in the first half. We were better organized in the second.''
Umtiti scored the winner in the 75th when he bundled the ball home at the second attempt after his initial shot was blocked following a corner.
The defeat leaves Troyes mired in the relegation zone in 19th place.
In other matches, it was: Evian 0, Brest 2; Montpellier 2, Lorient 0; Nancy 2, Lille 2, and Rennes 0, Bordeaux 2.
Bordeaux coach Francis Gillot celebrated his new two-year contract with a convincing win at Rennes. Forwards Yoan Gouffran and Henri Saivet scored second-half goals as Bordeaux moved ahead of Rennes and into fourth place on goal difference - although Bordeaux is nine points behind Lyon and is not considered a genuine title challenger.
Summer signing Gaetan Charbonnier scored two late goals to help defending champion Montpellier climb up to ninth spot.
After Evian goalkeeper Bernard Laquait was sent off in the 11th minute, Brest took advantage shortly after when Eden Ben Basat put the visitors ahead in the 15th. Midfielder Bruno Grougi wrapped up the win in injury time.
Evian was in 17th place, just one spot above the relegation zone, while Brest was 13th.
Nancy remains in last place despite a late equalizer from midfielder Thomas Ayasse.
Seventh-place Lille took the lead in the first minute through striker Nolan Roux, only for forward Romain Grange to level in the 21st, before winger Dimitri Payet restored Lille's advantage 10 minutes later. Roux and Payet are Lille's top scorers with seven league goals each.
Reims faces Bastia and Nice takes on Valenciennes in Sunday's other games.
Saint-Etienne drew 2-2 at home to Toulouse in Friday's other match.