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Lyon beats Lille 2-1 in French league

By Trung Latieule

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 4:51 p.m. MST

Lyon's Cris of Brazil, back, and, Dejan Lovren, front, celebrate after they won their French League One soccer match against Lille at Gerland stadium, in Lyon, central France, Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Laurent Cipriani, Associated Press

PARIS — Fresh from an embarrassing Champions League exit at the hands of Apoel Nicosia, Lyon got back into the race to qualify for next season's competition by beating Lille 2-1 in the French league on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette, who had a penalty saved in the shootout against Cypriot side Apoel on Wednesday, headed in a cross from Lyon fullback Mouhamadou Dabo in the 12th minute.

Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez took a pass from Lacazette to add a second goal for Lyon in the 38th.

Lille pulled one back through a downward header from Aurelien Chedjou on the stroke of halftime and the hosts had to hold out for the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Croatia centerback Dejan Lovren picked up a second yellow card for fouling Lille midfielder Eden Hazard.

Lyon is sixth and four points adrift of third-place Lille.

"People had written us off but tonight they saw that Lyon is not dead yet," Dabo told Canal Plus television. "It will boost our confidence for the next matches."

Lyon could have restored its two-goal lead in the 57th when a powerful free kick from Brazilian winger Michel Bastos crashed agains the bar.

Lille had a chance to go level in the 62nd but the close-range header from substitute Tulio de Melo bounced off the bar.

Lille midfielder Benoit Pedretti realized that the result was a potentially decisive blow to his team's chances of retaining the league title.

"If (Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier) win tomorrow, we will trail by 11 and 10 points respectively," Pedretti said. "That's a huge gap with only 11 rounds left. Given our current level, we will try to focus on keeping this third place, which is just as important."

Saint-Etienne is now one point behind Lille after a 2-1 win over Valenciennes.

Also Saturday, it was: Toulouse 1, Lorient 1; Brest 0, Bordeaux 2; Evian 2, Sochaux 3; and Nice 1, Nancy 1.

League leader Paris Saint-Germain visits Dijon on Sunday, when second-place Montpellier hosts Caen and Rennes faces Auxerre.

Saint-Etienne had to come from behind to maintain its push for a top three finish.

Valenciennes striker Vincent Aboubakar put the hosts ahead by converting a cross from Foued Kadir in the 69th, but Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got his 11th goal this season to level for Saint-Etienne in the 73rd.

Saint-Etienne winger Bakary Sako scored the winner in the 77th, following up to find the net after Laurent Batlles had hit the post.

Both teams spent most of the match down to 10 men.

Valenciennes midfielder Carlos Sanchez was sent off in the third minute for a violent tackle on Saint-Etienne midfielder Fabien Lemoine, who suffered an ankle injury and will be sidelined for at least a month.

Saint-Etienne defender Jean-Pascal Mignot was red-carded in the 32nd for fouling Kadir, who was bearing down on goal.

"We had an interesting numerical advantage after Sanchez's sending off," Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier told Foot Plus television. "Then we made things difficult for ourselves and Valenciennes opened the scoring. But we managed to react to go and get this victory."

Toulouse dropped two points behind Saint-Etienne after a draw at home to struggling Lorient. The hosts took the lead through an own goal by Lucas Mareque in the 51st before Innocent Emeghara equalized in the 61st.

Bordeaux striker Yoan Gouffran raised his tally to nine goals this season by converting a rebound in the 35th after Michael Ciani had hit the post. Czech midfielder Jaroslav Plasil doubled the lead with a header in the 48th as Brest suffered only its second home loss this season.

Sochaux snapped a 14-game winless streak in all competitions thanks to an own goal by Brice Dja Djedje and further strikes by Vincent Nogueira and Edouard Butin, after Cedric Mongongu put Evian ahead from the penalty spot.

Cedric Cambon headed in to make it 3-2 in the 70th, but Sochaux held on, and there was further bad news for the hosts when winger Sidney Govou was ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon in the 39th.

Nancy's point at Nice was enough to keep the club out of the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Dijon's match against PSG on Sunday.

Daniel Niculae headed in a free kick from Yohan Mollo in the 13th to give Nancy the lead before Franck Dja Djedje took a pass from winger Anthony Mounier to level for the hosts from close range in the 37th.

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