PARIS, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Two goals on his debut from Brazilian striker Fred helped leaders Olympique Lyon stay in control of Ligue 1 with a 2-1 home win over Monaco on Saturday.
The 21-year-old newcomer, playing his first match since joining from Brazilian side Cruzeiro last month, opened the scoring for the champions from close range on six minutes.
He doubled Lyon's advantage with a superb header five minutes into the second half.
'It was very important for us to win and for me to score,' said Fred. 'I like the stadium and the pitch. The fans were fantastic. I feel ready for Ligue 1 and I'm looking forward to more nights like this.'
Monaco were fighting bravely when they had midfielder Olivier Kapo sent off for a second booking in the 56th minute.
The team from the principality nevertheless managed to reduce the arrears with a deflected free kick from striker David Gigliotti in the 79th minute.
The win provided Lyon with a welcome morale boost three days before they entertain Real Madrid in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.
The one sad note for Lyon was a knee injury sustained by Brazilian defender Cris, who will miss the game against Real.
'It's a bruised ligament,' said coach Gerard Houllier. 'I doesn't look too serious but he can't play on Tuesday.'
Lyon, chasing an unprecedented fifth successive title, stay three points clear of second-placed Paris St Germain, who beat Racing Strasbourg 1-0 courtesy of a first-half goal by Ivory Coast midfielder Bonaventure Kalou.
Strasbourg had Egypt midfielder Hosni Rabou sent off for a second bookable offence in the 65th minute.
Promoted Le Mans moved up to a surprise third place with a 2-0 win at Toulouse.
The visitors moved in front with an early goal from Congolese striker Chiguy Lucau and stayed on top despite having defender Marko Basa sent off for grabbing the arm of Toulouse striker Daniel Moreira in the 50th minute.
Midfielder Yohan Hautcoeur completed the victory with five minutes remaining.
Last season's runners-up Lille recovered from a frustrating start to the season when two goals from Nigerian striker Peter Odemwegie gave them a 2-0 win at Metz, who played the last 20 minutes with 10 men after having midfielder Ludovic Obraniak sent off for a dangerous tackle.
Northerners Lille, who start their Champions League campaign away to Benfica on Wednesday, climb four spots to eighth.
Fourth-placed Racing Lens entertain sixth-placed Girondins Bordeaux in one of the highlights of weekend action on Sunday.