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Manchester derby: History of cup clashes

By ESPN Staff

Lyon close in on fifth successive title

Lyon's visit to the Champagne region brought closer the date when they can crack open the bubbly for real as a late goal from Tiago against Troyes put them one step closer to a historic fifth consecutive French title.

Their hosts will be less likely to be popping the corks after a result that left the strugglers looking anxiously over their shoulders.

At the final whistle Troyes were still fourth bottom but results in matches involving their relegation rivals could see them drop into the relegation zone later on Saturday.

There are no such worries for Lyon who, with six matches left to play, move 12 points clear of Bordeaux who play their game in hand with Paris St Germain on Sunday.

Failure to win for Bordeaux on Sunday would remove any lingering doubts of completion of a historic feat for even the most pessimistic Lyon fan although, with a Champions League match with AC Milan looming, Gerard Houllier will doubtless resist the temptation to open a magnum or two for now.

Troyes started the game well enough and after four minutes Lyon were indebted to goalkeeper Gregory Coupet.

The experienced custodian showed why many consider him better than his rival for the French national team jersey, Marseille's Fabien Barthez, when he made a superb save to deny Benjamin Nivet who had been set up by Gharib Amzine.

Troyes goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom then did well to save at the feet of Fred after Sidney Govou had released the Brazilian striker.

However, the hosts were still battling and Sebastien Dallet fed Ibrahima Bangoura who was denied by Coupet who made another fine save.

Juninho's artistry created a chance for Govou who could only find the side netting but Troyes were still having the better of the early stages.

Coupet produced another masterpiece to tip Nivet's 32nd-minute free-kick onto the bar.

Lyon started the second half well and Fred was foiled by Le Crom before Juninho's free-kick found only the Troyes wall.

The free-kick specialist had another go after 65 minutes but, although this time he breached the wall, Le Crom was equal to the task.

The goal came after 76 minutes as Juninho took a corner and Tiago headed it into the back of the net.

Le Crom prevented Lyon from extending the lead after 84 minutes when he blocked a shot by substitute Florent Malouda before grabbing the ball before another replacement John Carew could convert the rebound.

Sobriety will be the watchword for both clubs for the time-being with so much still at stake but Lyon's players are all but guaranteed at least one victory party. Troyes may also be driven to drink - whether it's to celebrate top-flight survival or drown their sorrows remains to be seen.