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PSG and Lyon in thrilling title showdown

Ligue 1
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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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By ESPN Staff

'Title effectively ours', says Lyon boss Houllier

LYON, France, April 9 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon have effectively already won a record fifth consecutive title as far as coach Gerard Houllier is concerned.

'Objectively, with 15 points to be distributed, it's won,' Houllier told reporters on Sunday.

Lyon, who beat Nice 2-1 on Saturday, enjoy a 14-point lead over second-placed Girondins Bordeaux with five games remaining and have a much better goal difference.

They need just two points to be sure of beating St Etienne and Olympique Marseille's record of four successive Ligue 1 titles.

Lyon have led the standings since a 2-0 win at AJ Auxerre on Aug. 28 and can be crowned next Saturday even before playing Paris St Germain at the Parc des Princes.

Should Bordeaux, who were held to a goalless draw by St Etienne on Saturday, fail to win at Lille in an early kickoff Lyon will be champions.

'I think that psychologically we have won the title,' said Houllier. 'It was a very important victory against Nice, especially after what happened in Milan.'

Lyon were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals after losing 3-1 at AC Milan on Tuesday.

Club chairman Jean-Michel Aulas cautioned after Saturday's win over Nice: 'It's true that we took a huge step towards the title but in Milan we were qualified on 88 minutes and two minutes later, we were eliminated.'