Ligue 1: Champions-elect Lyon held by Monaco

December 23, 2006

PARIS, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon failed to end a great year on a winning note when they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Monaco in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The leaders, chasing a sixth consecutive title, remain comfortably ahead of the pack, with 50 points from a maximum 57.

Lyon have reached the halfway stage 15 points clear of second-placed Racing Lens, who fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 at lowly Nice with second-half goals from Brazilian forward Jussie and Ivory Coast forward Aruna Dindane.

Lens were still 1-0 down when they had Serbia midfielder Nenad Kovacevic sent off for a second booking after 62 minutes.

Nice played the last few minutes with 10 men after defender Cedric Varrault received his marching orders for a nasty tackle on Dindane.

Surprise package Sochaux moved up to third place 17 points off the pace by beating Nancy 2-1 with Algeria midfielder Karim Ziani netting twice.

Lyon, who have not won their final league match before the winter break since 2001, had the best chances against Monaco but were denied by a string of brilliant saves from Italian goalkeeper Flavio Roma.

'We kept trying but it didn't pay off,' said Lyon coach Gerard Houllier, whose players have won all but three of their league matches this season.

'Fifty points at halfway is quite an achievement but we're not champions yet,' he added.

Paris St Germain could only manage a dull 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Troyes in their last match of a traumatic year earlier on Saturday.

The result left PSG a miserable 16th on 19 points from 18 matches, 31 points behind Lyon.

Ivorian striker Amara Diane opened the scoring for PSG early in the second half but Troyes, who remain 18th, levelled through substitute forward Georges Ba after 74 minutes.

'We haven't been lucky this year,' said PSG coach Guy Lacombe, whose future would have been in doubt had his team lost. 'Next year will be different.'

The capital club have struggled on the pitch in the first half of the season and have been tainted by hooliganism.

A policeman shot dead a PSG fan while under attack from supporters after a 4-2 UEFA Cup home defeat by Hapoel Tel Aviv last month.