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Jan 25, 2007

Ligue 1: No panic at Lyon despite losses

PARIS, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon were not panicking after their second Ligue 1 defeat in succession and were still convinced they would reach their goals.

'You're right, we're going through a bad spell,' was Lyon coach Gerard Houllier's tongue-in-cheek comment after his team lost 2-1 to Girondins Bordeaux on Wednesday, their third defeat this season and the first at home.

'We're 14 points clear at the top, we have qualified for the French League Cup final and we're still in the race for the French Cup and Champions League titles,' Houllier told reporters. 'It's very clear, we're hit by a crisis.'

Lyon, who could bounce back as early as Saturday when they entertain strugglers Nice, remain ideally placed to become the first side from a major European league to win six titles in succession.

However, Lyon, who started the year with a 2-0 defeat at Toulouse on Jan. 13, had not lost two consecutive league matches since Sept. 2002.

'I'm not looking for excuses,' said Houllier. 'A defeat is always a wake-up call. We must learn the lessons from those two hitches and react accordingly.'

Olympique Marseille, back in second place 14 points off the pace after a 3-1 home win over AJ Auxerre featuring two Franck Ribery goals, will resume their chase for a Champions League spot on Saturday by visiting mid-table Le Mans.

'Marseille have all the trump cards needed to make it to the Champions League,' said Auxerre coach Jean Fernandez, formerly at Marseille.

The former European champions can rely on the combined skills of Ribery and fellow France forward Djibril Cisse, both back from injury breaks.

The southerners know second place is all they can reasonably target.

'Even for that, we'll need to be very strong mentally,' said Marseille coach Albert Emon.

Northerners Racing Lens, who dropped to third with a 1-0 defeat at Lorient on Wednesday, entertain once-great St Etienne on Sunday.