Lyon crush Nice 4-1 to take top spot

August 26, 2006

PARIS, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon, inspired by the impressive Florent Malouda, crushed Nice 4-1 on Saturday to take top spot in Ligue 1.

The five-times French champions fell behind as striker Marama Vahirua scored with a superb lob after an unchallenged run through the Lyon defence to put the home side in front in the 27th minute.

But Lyon hit back with France international Malouda slotting home a cross from Portuguese midfielder Tiago just after the break.

Malouda then set up substitute Karim Benzema for Lyon's second before delivering a fine pass to Tiago to put the game beyond Nice 15 minutes from time. Benzema added a fourth goal from the penalty spot during stoppage time after defender Anthier Yahia handled.

Lyon have 10 points from four matches. Overnight leaders Olympique Marseille host Le Mans at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday and will need a home win to regain top spot.

'We were a bit too relaxed during the first half. We certainly thought we could get the win without sweating for it,' Lyon coach Gerard Houllier said. 'We played much better after the interval. We put much more will in our attacking moves.'

Lille confirmed that their ambitions in the title race should not be taken lightly when they demolished Girondins Bordeaux 3-0.

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye put the northern side in front thanks to a powerful right foot shot in the 26th minute and youthful Mathieu Bodmer made it 2-0 when he netted just before the break.

Odemwingie wrapped it up with 57th minute header to send Lille second on nine points, one behind Lyon.

'We have had several chances to score in the first half but we failed to put the ball in the net,' Bordeaux coach Ricardo said. 'Things were easy to deal with when they were 2-0 up.

'They like to play on the counter-attack and they managed to add a third goal. Soccer is like that sometimes. We must not give too much meaning to this defeat. We are still confident of ourselves. We fear no one,' Ricardo said.

Influential number nine Pedro Pauleta struck twice in five minutes but his efforts were not enough to prevent Paris St Germain going down 3-2 at Sochaux.

The hosts were leading 2-0 at the interval thanks to goal by Karim Ziani and Badara Sene before Pauleta found the net twice to level the scoring.

Ziani converted a penalty 10 minutes from time to seal the win and send his side third in the standings.