French Ligue 1

Puel: Seven point gap does not make us champs

November 17, 2008

Lyon coach Claude Puel believes the Ligue 1 title race is very much open even though his side forged seven points clear at the top of the table with Sunday night's 2-1 win over Bordeaux.

Karim Benzema and Kim Kallstrom scored Les Gones' goals in the final 12 minutes of the first half at the Stade Gerland, Fernando Cavenaghi's riposte nine minutes from time coming too late for Les Girondins.

With closest challengers Marseille blowing a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Lorient on Saturday, Lyon have pulled well clear at the summit.

But Puel reckons there are plenty of twists and turns left in the title race, and is taking nothing for granted.

"We have come out of this well, and not only because Bordeaux are direct rivals," said Puel, whose side are now nine points ahead of Les Girondins.

"We were playing a home match with the aim of giving ourselves a little cushion before what comes next.

"We have a very difficult calendar and we will have problems coping - there are international matches everywhere, Jean Makoun must go to South Africa (for the African Nations Cup).

"So it is good to have this advantage, but nothing is sorted yet."

There was little to choose between the two sides, although Bordeaux arguably had the better of the chances.

They dominated early on but could not find a breakthrough and were undone by a little piece of magic in the 33rd minute by Benzema, who exchanged a one-two with strike partner Fred before slipping home a left-footed finish.

Kallstrom extended Lyon's lead five minutes later with a deflected long-range shot to give his side a vice-like grip on proceedings, but Puel admitted it was not all plain-sailing.

"This Bordeaux team pushed us around and we submitted to them for a bit before the first goal. We opened the scoring against the run of play," he said.

"Changing to a 4-3-3 (instead of a 4-4-2) made us more comfortable. We managed the second half well and were able to kill off the match."