MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Bafetimbi Gomis (L) and Lisandro (R) of Lyon stand dejected after conceding a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Real Madrid and Lyon at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 16, 2011 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

French Ligue 1: Lyon Defeat Marseille 3-2 After Wild Second Half

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: 3-2 Full Time, Cris Saves The Day

Lyon are firmly into a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot and challenging for an automatic place, thanks to their dramatic 3-2 home win at the Stade de Gerland over second placed Marseille. The visitors were in control for long stretches of the match and even came back from 2-0 down to level the score at 2-2, but a great strike by captain Cris sealed the victory for Les Gones late into the second half. 

Lisandro Lopez opened the scoring in the 25th minute, converting a penalty that he drew from Souleymane Diawara. Marseille pressed forward for the rest of the second half, but couldn't find an equalizer. The beginning of the first half saw Lyon get back into the game in a fairly even back and forth battle, and they went ahead 2-0 in the 69th, thanks to a magnificent individual effort by Cesar Delgado. The winger beat Marseille right back Rod Fanni with a couple of cutback dribbles, setting himself up for an open shot at the net, which he placed well.

Marseille fought back instantly, though, scoring a goal of their own just one minute later. Lyon forward Jimmy Briand attempted to save a ball from going out for a Marseille corner kick, but in doing so he left the ball for Jordan Ayew. The young Ghanaian hit a low cross to the near post, and an unmarked Lucho Gonzalez tapped it in.

Nine minutes later, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Loic Remy combined for an unorthodox equalizer, as Gignac flicked a Gonzalez corner kick back to Remy, who got a little lucky as he put the ball into the back of the net with his thigh.

Lyon would claim the victory, though, thanks to Cris. Their captain has dealt with poor form and injuries throughout the season, but he came up big when his team needed him most, fighting through defenders in the box to get onto the end of the ball, then strike it with venom into the back of the net on the half volley. His 84th minute strike would be the last goal of the game, and Lyon walked away with a priceless 3-2 victory.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: Lucho Gonzalez, Loic Remy Goals Have L'OM Level

Incredibly, after going 2-0 down on the 69th minute, Marseille are level with Lyon thanks to two goals in less than 10 minutes, the first of which came just one minute after Lyon went 2-0 ahead. Lucho Gonzalez scored the first goal, and it was absolutely gifted to Marseille.

In the 70th minute, in an attempt to save a ball from going out for a corner kick, Jimmy Briand unintentionally touched a ball right to Jordan Ayew. The young forward played a low ball from the left hand side of the penalty area to the near post, and Gonzalez, who was unmarked, ran onto it and finished.

Nine minutes later, Marseille found their equalizer on a set piece. Off of a corner kick by Gonzalez, Andre-Pierre Gignac flicked the ball to the back post where Loic Remy was waiting. His finish was a bit unorthodox, as the ball bounced off his thigh into the roof of the net, but they all count the same in the end.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: Cesar Delgado Goal Has Les Gones 2-0 Up

After Marseille failed to capitalize on a long spell of dominance at the end of the first half, the second half has started with Lyon as the team in control, and they've found the back of the net in the 69th minute to go up 2-0 on their opponents. If this score holds, Lyon will put a serious dent in Marseille's title hopes, as L'OM will trail Lille by four points with four games to go if this game ends in a loss for them.

Cesar Delgado was the man who scored, and he did it on an absolutely stellar individual effort. Picking up the ball in the box, Delgado abused Marseille right back Rod Fanni, beating him twice with cut-back dribbles, then putting the ball past Steve Mandanda.

Incredibly, just a minute earlier, Lyon had a goal disallowed for offsides. Jimmy Briand, who has come into the game as a substitute, appeared to capitalize off of a mishandled ball by Mandanda, but the linesman correctly flagged for a very close offsides call.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: 1-0 Halftime, Lisandro Lopez Has Les Gones Ahead

After 45 minutes of play at the Stade de Gerland, Lyon have a 1-0 lead on Marseille, and they're well on their way to both playing themselves back into the UEFA Champions League and seriously crippling Marseille's title chances. Lyon's goal came from Lisandro Lopez, who drew a penalty from Souleymane Diawara in the 25th minute, then converted it with a powerful strike to notch his 16th goal of the season. Since that moment, Marseille have been the aggressors, but they're yet to find a breakthrough.

Marseille had the best early opportunities, thanks to a flurry of set pieces between the 10th and 13th minutes. In the 11th, in the middle of their dominant sequence, Loic Remy appeared to score a goal, but it was disallowed for a foul by Diawara. At that point, Lyon started to look like the better team, and they capped off their dominant sequence with Lopez's goal.

From the 25th minute on, Marseille were the better side, but they were unable to score. Hugo Lloris looked shaky on Marseille's early set pieces, but he looked very good in the latter part of the second half, making multiple saves on shots by Marseille players. The front three of Remy, Andre Ayew, and Mathieu Valbuena has looked solid, but they are just lacking a little bit of finishing quality. They have Andre-Pierre Gignac on the bench, who would provide Didier Deschamps' side with a proven finisher and a better aerial presence. 

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: Lisandro Lopez Draws, Scores Penalty

Lyon have a lead over Marseille after a period of around eight minutes of being the better side, thanks to a drawn and converted penalty kick by Argentinian forward Lisandro Lopez. Last year's Ligue 1 player of the year got off to a bit of a rough start this year, but when he's been on, he's been as good as last year, and his penalty has taken him to a total of 16 league goals on the season.

Cutting in from the left hand side, Lopez caught Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara out of position, and in a desperate attempt to dispossess Lopez, Diawara stuck out his leg clumsily and brought down Lopez in the box. He stepped up to the spot confidently and blasted a laser into the back of the net, giving Lyon a 1-0 lead.

A loss would be a crippling blow to Marseille, who currently trail Lille by four points for the title, with one game in hand, the one that they're currently playing. With four games to go, Lille would become clear title favorites with a four point lead.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: Miralem Pjanic With An Incredible Miss

Despite their early hiccups, Lyon really should be 1-0 ahead after 16 minutes, but the score is still level thanks to a spectacular miss by Miralem Pjanic, who is starting in place of the unavailable (and to be fair, out of form anyway) Yoann Gourcuff. His team worked a fantastic ball into the box, with Lisandro Lopez putting in a low cross that was left for Pjanic by Bafetimbi Gomis, with a great dummy. Pjanic had the net at his mercy as he stood with the ball at his feet right on the penalty spot, but he inexplicably missed wide to Steve Mandanda's right.

After a period where Marseille surged forward for five minutes, Lyon are tilting the pitch in their favor. They've been on the front foot since L'OM's series of set pieces, and this is turning out to a great game with surges of attacking momentum for both teams.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille, Ligue 1: Nervous Moments Early For Les Gones

Lyon and Marseille are still scoreless through 15 minutes of play at the Stade de Gerland, but the home side have had some seriously nervous moments in the early going. Loic Remy is causing some serious problems for Lyon's defense early on, and Hugo Lloris does not look terribly confident in goal.

In a matter of a couple of minutes, Lyon gave away two free kicks within 25 yards of the goal. The first one, in the 11th minute, didn't result in anything, but a Remy goal just after the free kick was disallowed for a foul off the ball just seconds before Remy took his shot. Just a minute after that incident, in the 12th minute, Remy was fouled from behind just outside of the penalty box, and the referee got a tough decision exactly right by giving a free kick just outside of the box. On the ensuing free kick, Lloris was caught out of position, but his defense prevented any shots from reaching his goal.

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Lyon Vs. Marseille: Lineups

Lyon host Marseille in what looks to be the hosts' last hope of breaking Marseille's stranglehold on second place and entering the guaranteed Champions League spots. Although this is a big match, nobody's really convinced it'll be an exciting one - there's a lot at stake for both teams and neither will want to lose here. But Lyon need to attack, so if they can grab an early(ish) goal we might see both sides play the sort of football we know they can.

Lyon (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Thimothee Kolodzieczak, Dejan Lovren, Cris, Anthony Reveillere; Maxime Gonalons, Kim Kallstrom, Miralem Pjanic; Lisandro Lopez, Bafetimbi Gomis, Cesar Delgado.

Substitutes:
Remi Vercoutre, Jimmy Briand, Pape Diakhate, Jeremy Pied, Lamine Gassama, Grenier Clement, Alexandre Lacazette.

Marseille (4-3-3):
Steven Mandanda; Taye Taiwo, Gabriel Heinze, Souleymane Diawara, Rod Fanni; Edouard Cisse, Benoit Cheyrou, Lucho Gonzalez; Andre Ayew, Loic Remy, Mathieu Valbuena.

Substitutes: Fabrice Abriel, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Leyti N'Diaye, Elinton Andrade, Jean Phillipe Sabo, Jordan Ayew.

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AS Nancy Vs. Lille: Eden Hazard Goal Leads Lille To Victory

That wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination but ultimately Ligue Un leaders Lille will depart the Stade Marcel Picot happy at having earned all three points. An ultra-defensive AS Nancy side seemed to be playing for the point, and they were succeeding in keeping the visitors at bay until the very end of the first half, when Belgian starlet Eden Hazard whipped in a free kick that evaded Damien Gregorini and crashed into the side netting to give Lille the advantage.

Nancy, who had managed three shots in the first half, were forced to attack in the second, and came close to levelling several times, most notably when Jonathan Brison fired just with in the 77th minute. However, for all of their huffing and puffing in and around Lille's penalty box, the hosts didn't force Mickael Landreau into a single serious save, and Lille were left to see the game out relatively comfortably. Aside from all the fouls, that is - a rough estimate has the foul count as one every two-and-a-half minutes. Like I said, not a classic.

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AS Nancy Vs. Lille: Eden Hazard Strike Makes It 1-0 At Halftime

Before the match kicked off, we were expecting a bit of a dull one. Nancy, after all, aren't exactly known for their expansive attitude towards football, and anyone taking on Lille without some measure of defensiveness to them is simply asking to be ripped apart. So we got an even-more defensive Nancy than usual, and they spent all but about two minutes soaking up pressure in their end.

The statistics tell the story. 69% possession to the visitors. Five shots to three. Three shots on goal to none. And yet, for all of their dominance, Lille hadn't scored, or gotten particularly near scoring, thanks to the hosts' stubborn defence. It looked as though we'd be entering the break with both sides locked at 0-0. However, as regular time was winding down, Landy N'Guemo took out Tulio de Melo about 25 yards out, and Eden Hazard surprised everyone by sending a curling effort into Damien Gregorini's side netting. The goalkeeper was taken by surprise, but there really wasn't much he could do about it anyway - it was a very well taken goal.

Anyway, Lille are now leading 1-0 at halftime, and Nancy will have to come out of their shell if they want a result here, which will just leave them massively exposed to the league leaders' front line. It's not looking good for the hosts.

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AS Nancy Vs. Lille: Lineups

Lille are sitting around waiting to win the league, and Nacy really aren't very good. But they are at home,and there's always the chance of an upset - it's just not a very good one. Except Nancy to sit back and play ultra-defensive football, and also expect the Lille strike force of Tilio de Melo, Gervinho, and Eden Hazard to break through at some point. They usually manage it.

AS Nancy (4-5-1): Damien Gregorini; Reynald Lemaitre, Jordan Loties, Andre Luiz, Mickael Chretien; Jonathan Brison, Landy N'Guemo, Samba Diakite, Pascal Berenguer, Julien Feret; Youssouf Hadji.

Substitutes: Bakaye Traore, Djamel Bakar, Alexandre Cuvillier, Alfred Ndiaye, Joel Sami, Benjamin Jeannot, Remy Pillot.

Lille (4-3-3): Mickael Landreau; Da Conceicao Emerson, David Rozehnal, Adil Rami, Mathieu Debuchy; Idrissa Gana Gueye, Rio Mavuba, Florent Balmont; Tilio De Melo, Gervinho, Eden Hazard.

Substitutes: Stephane Dumont, Moussa Sow, Barel Mouko, Aurelien Chedjou, Pape N'Diaye Souare, Gianni Bruno, Omar Wade.

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Ligue 1 Preview, Week 34: Lyon Hope To Keep Slim Title Hopes Alive Against Marseille

Despite ample opportunity over the past few weeks, the teams at the top and bottom of the Ligue 1 table have largely refused to create any real separation. The title looks a two-horse race at the moment, but Lyon are still close enough that they'd scarcely consider themselves out of the running altogether. They'll have a massive chance to close the gap this weekend as send-place Marseille come to pay a visit while Lille will look at the tough tasks ahead of their closest rivals and their clash with relegation threatened Nancy as an opportunity to create a bit of breathing room.

Saturday

AJ Auxerre vs, Montpellier

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

Auxerre have a chance to put themselves in a much safer position with the teams below them in the relegation battle all facing tough tests in their own right and Montepellier a an hilariously impotent team away from home. Montepellier are playing to stay in the top of the table. That doesn't really seem fair, does it? The Montpellier players should all have to shave off an eyebrow if they lose, just to ensure they have something more tangible than pride to play for.

Pick: Auxerre, 2-0

Arles vs. St. Etienne

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

Arles have scored only four goals away this season. Luckily for Arles they're playing at home. Unluckily for Arles they're still Arles.

Poor Arles.

Pick: St. Etienne, 3-1

AS Monaco vs. PSG

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

PSG are still clinging onto their title hopes by a thread and they're behind Lyon only on goal difference for the final Champions League spot. Monaco remain just a point off the drop but they have the edge over their felllow bottom-table sides in terms of goal difference. PSG score a lot of goals, while Monaco are a very stingy defensive club. It's the irresistible force meets the immovable object and based on my understanding of physics, the result will be the explosion of the universe due to mathematical paradox. Luckily, this means your mother will never find out you forgot to but her a present.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Bordeaux vs. Sochaux

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

This one's for all the marbles. I mean that literally; the winning team gets every single marble in the entire univers. They're calling it the Coupe du Marbre. I was surprised to find out the FFF had that much sway, but there you go. My nephew Jimmy is going to be really bummed out. He spent all the money he made mowing lawns on a real swell collection of catseyes.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Brest vs. Nice

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

Ha! Get it?

*nudges you in a really irritating manner while raising eyebrows suggestively*

Pick: Brest, 1-0

Caen vs. Lens

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

Lens are, in reality, well and truly screwed while Caen can get themselves really close to safety with a win in this game. If I were Lens I'd put eleven men behind the ball and just give Caen raspberries the entire game.

Pick: Caen, 1-0

Lorient vs. Toulouse

Time: 19:00 CEST/1:00 PM EDT

Lorient and Toulouse both have rather vibrant and pleasant primary colors, so I find it interesting that were one to mix them together they would end up with a dull, drab earth tone. All the life, sapped right out of them, the sum of the vivid parts a staid, almost deathly whole.

This has been Philisophical Musings On The Elements Of Design Against The Backdrop Of French Association Football.

Pick: Lorient, 3-2

Nancy vs. Lille

Time: 21:00 CEST/3:00 PM EDT

This is one of those games that will see the vast majority of truly disinterested fans pulling desperately for Nancy to manage the upset, to knock the king of the league in waiting off their throne and simultaneously pull themselves from the depth.

Well too bad, vast majority of truly disinterested fans. You're probably going to get boring, predictable and depressing.

Pick: Lille, 2-0

Sunday

Valenciennes vs. Stade Rennes

Time: 17:00 CEST/11:00 AM EDT

I keep wanting to predict Stades Rennes to lose, just because oh my God be more boring, but the reality is that sometimes boring can be good, at least in terms of results. I mean I doubt anyone thinks watching Arles play could be described as boring, and look how far that's gotten them. The utilitarian in me likes boring. Draws are efficient results. Good on you, Stades Rennes.

Pick: Valenciennes, 18-1

Lyon vs. Marseille

Time: 21:00 CEST/3:00 PM EDT

This should be a fantastic game, but how often do the most intriguing matchups turn out to be all that great? It seems like whenever a marquee game ends up being even slightly entertaining no one will ever shut up about it. So you know what? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this game is going to be awful. Thanks for ruining my mental image of how my Sunday is going to go, Lyon and Marseille. Bunch of jerks.

Pick: Lyon, 2-0

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