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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 1, 2009

Ligue 1: Lyon leapfrog Bordeaux to go back top

Ten-man Lyon returned to the top of the Ligue 1 table after holding on to earn a draw against neighbours St Etienne in the Rhone-Alps derby tonight.

Dead-ball doyen Juninho's 52nd-minute free-kick cancelled out the opener scored by St Etienne forward Kevin Mirallas three minutes earlier.

Les Gones played the last 36 minutes a man light following the sending-off of Frederic Piquionne for two yellow cards, but they survived and go back to the top of the standings after being briefly usurped on goal difference by Bordeaux, who drew with Lille earlier today.

The visitors, who climb back out of the drop zone, have a dreadful recent record against Lyon - they have not beaten their arch rivals since 1994 - and they failed to end that sequence despite having a numerical advantage for almost half the match.

St Etienne boss Alain Perrin was making his first return to the Stade Gerland since Lyon dumped him last summer, days after he clinched them the first league-and-cup double in their history, but he was unable to exact full revenge.

ASSE restricted the champions to just a few half-chances in the first 45 minutes, the best of which fell to Karim Benzema, who drew a sensational save out of Jeremie Janot on the stroke of half-time.

Prior to that, St Etienne's defence was relatively untroubled and it was the visitors who had the half's best opportunity, Mirallas blazing over after working space for himself in the second minute.

The Belgium international did find the target five minutes after the break, the ball ricocheting off Dimitri Payet into the forward's path before he lifted it over the advancing Hugo Lloris and into the net from 10 yards.

Their lead lasted just three minutes, Juninho proving deadly from a free-kick once again as he deceived the unsighted Janot with a curling effort from the left flank.

A crazy three-minute spell ended with Piquionne, making a rare first-team start, receiving his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Mouhamadou Dabo.

As expected, Les Verts went on to dominate possession but Lyon's backline held firm.

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