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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 24, 2007

France: Lyon win but lose top scorer Benzema

PARIS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon won 2-0 at Stade Rennes on Saturday to stay three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 but lost France forward Karim Benzema through injury.

Benzema, the league's top scorer with 11 goals, left the pitch on a stretcher early in the second half with a bruised right thigh muscle.

The 19-year-old is doubtful for Tuesday's home Champions League group match against Barcelona, which Lyon need to win to keep alive their chances of reaching the knockout stages.

First-half goals from Brazil midfielder Juninho and young France forward Hatem Ben Arfa helped Lyon to bounce back after losing 2-1 at home to Olympique Marseille in their previous league outing.

Juninho opened the scoring on five minutes from a penalty after Benzema was brought down by Sweden defender Petter Hansson. Television replays suggested the foul had been committed outside the box.

The 20-year-old Ben Arfa doubled the advantage on 24 minutes with a fine goal, twisting his way through the Rennes defence before leaving goalkeeper Simon Pouplin helpless with a powerful, angled shot.

'We showed tonight that what happened against Marseille was an accident,' said Lyon coach Alain Perrin. 'We were well organised at the back and used the chances we got up front. It was a very satisfying performance.'

Lyon moved on to 34 points from 15 matches. Second-placed Nancy stayed three points back by beating northerners Lille 2-0 courtesy of late goals from defender Sebastien Puygrenier and substitute midfielder Jonathan Brison.

Third-placed Girondins Bordeaux dropped nine points off the pace with an embarrassing 5-0 defeat at Caen after having two players sent off.

Mathieu Chalme received his marching orders for a second booking in the 36th minute. Fellow defender Marc Planus followed him off for bringing down Caen striker Yoan Goufran in the box in the 74th minute.

The offence resulted in a penalty which forward Elliot Grandin converted to put Caen 3-0 up. Argentine Juan Eduardo Eluchans and fellow midfielder Remi Gomis then wrapped up the home side's win with late goals.

Marseille, recovering from a poor start to the season, climbed three places up to 14th with a 3-1 home win over bottom-placed Metz featuring two goals from Senegal striker Mamadou Niang.

Elsewhere, Strasbourg and Valenciennes drew 0-0, as did Toulouse and Monaco, while a solitary goal from Araujo Ilan handed St Etienne victory over struggling Sochaux and Lens and Lorient finished 1-1.