Lyon edges Le Mans 1-0

Defending champion Lyon won 1-0 at Le Mans on Saturday to maintain a 14-point advantage atop the French first division.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Defending champion Lyon won 1-0 at Le Mans on Saturday, getting a second-half header from Sylvain Wiltord to win its fourth straight and maintain a 14-point advantage atop the French first division. The victory was its 13th in 14 games and eighth in nine away from home, giving Lyon 43 points from 16 matches. "Today we made a giant step toward the title," said Lyon coach Gerard Houllier. Wiltord's scored after a free kick by Brazilian playmaker Juninho in the 57th minute. It was the first loss of the season at home for Le Mans, which saw its best chance punched away by Lyon goalkeeper Gregory Coupet after James Fanchone slipped a through ball to Brazilian striker Grafite. Lens beat Bordeaux Meanwhile, Lens kept pace, beating Bordeaux 3-0 at home to improve to 29 points. In Saturday's other games, it was: Saint-Etienne 2, Lorient 0; Rennes 2, Nantes 0; Auxerre 0, Nice 0; Monaco 3, Valenciennes 0; and Sedan 1, Troyes 2. Lille visits Nancy on Sunday while Marseille takes on Sochaux. The match pitting Paris Saint-Germain against Toulouse was postponed because of security concerns. Lens remained unbeaten through eight matches, but won only its fourth during that streak, getting goals from Brazilian defender Vitorino Hilton in the 40th, Daniel Cousin in the 59th, and Tunisian forward Issam Jemaa in the 88th. Saint-Etienne also kept pace, another two points back of Lens, going ahead on Czech midfielder Marek Heinz's free kick in the 51st and sealing the victory over Lorient on Frederic Piquionne counterattack in the 66th. The goal was Piquionne's sixth of the season, fourth best in Ligue 1. Rennes scored a goal in each half to keep Nantes winless on the road in eight games this season and leave it in 19th place with 12 points - two ahead of last-place Sedan. Dutch defender Mario Melchiot gave Rennes the lead in the 38th, heading in a cross from Olivier Monterrubio and Bruno Cheyrou consolidated the victory with a goal in the 80th, volleying a ball chested down to him by Nigerian forward John Utaka. Monaco win Monaco won its first in three games, beating Valenciennes on a long-range effort goal by Yaya Toure in the 37th and another two in the second half. Toure set up Serge Gakpe in the 47th and Jan Koller added the finale in the 63rd. Troyes ended a four-game winless streak and climbed one spot into 18th, jumping out to a 2-0 lead and then holding off Sedan. Georges Ba capitalized to put Troyes ahead when goalkeeper Patrick Regnault mis-hit his clearance attempt and Yann Lachuer collected the error and fed Ba. After Sedan midfielder Morgan Amalfitano was sent off in the 67th, Gael Danic converted two minutes later, rising unmarked to head in a cross from Nabil Berkak at the far post. Gregory Pujol scored the only goal in the 70th for Sedan, which remained winless in eight matches. It was Troyes first victory away from home. (AP)