French roundup: Lyon rallies to move into first
PARIS (AP) -- Lyon rallied from a goal down to beat Valenciennes 3-2 on Saturday and move provisionally top of the French league.
Brazilian defender Gil headed in Gael Danic's corner in the 12th minute, but Lyon winger Michel Bastos leveled the scores shortly after and striker Bafetimbi Gomis' penalty put the home side ahead midway through the first half.
Midfielder Clement Grenier looked to have made the game safe in the 66th with a fierce shot from just inside the penalty area. But Valenciennes forward Gregory Pujol pulled a goal back 10 minutes later to set up a nervy finish at Stade Gerland.
Unbeaten Lyon has 10 points from four matches, but Marseille can restore its two-point lead by beating Rennes on Sunday.
Lyon coach Remi Garde praised the performance of veteran midfielder Steed Malbranque, who made his name in the Premier League with Fulham and Tottenham but was without a club before he joined Lyon late last month.
"He gave us what I expected from him: spontaneity, vision and maturity,'' Garde said. "Playing 300 games in the Premier League is huge. If the English had seen him play they would have voted him their `Man of the Match.'''
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who joined English side Tottenham on Friday after spending the last four years with Lyon, bid an emotional farewell to the Lyon fans before the match.
Remy Vercoutre, his replacement, was relieved to get the win.
"We can say `phew' because we had to win this match to continue our march forward,'' Vercoutre told Canal Plus television after the game. "We scored a few goals and conceded too many, but we took the three points (so) let's hope it continues.''
In Saturday's other results, it was: Ajaccio 2, Evian 0; Bastia 0, Saint-Etienne 3; Brest 2, Troyes 1; Lorient 3, Nancy 0; Sochaux 1, Montpellier 3, and Toulouse 1, Reims 1.
Lorient climbed up to third place thanks to goals from veteran winger Ludovic Giuly, defender Lamine Kone and midfielder Alain Traore. Fourth-place Toulouse needed a last-minute goal from Wissam Ben Yedder to salvage a 1-1 home draw with struggling Reims.
Defending champion Montpellier got its first win of the season, with highly rated midfielder Younes Belhanda - scorer of 12 league goals last season - getting his first of the campaign when he put his side ahead from the penalty spot in the 16th minute.
Striker Emmanuel Herrara doubled the lead in the 58th before striker Sloan Privat pulled a goal back for Sochaux. But Montpellier sealed the win with a late goal from winger Remy Cabella.
Saint-Etienne comfortably beat Bastia to overtake the Corsican side in the standings and move up to seventh place.
Midfielder Renaud Cohade and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put Saint-Etienne 2-0 ahead at halftime, before Joshua Guilavogui came off the bench to grab the third in the 89th.
Ajaccio's goals came from midfielder Johan Cavalli and center half Carl Medjani, while veteran midfielder Geoffrey Dernis scored four minutes into injury time for Brest, which had taken an early lead through Israeli forward Eden Ben Basat.
In Sunday's matches, Paris Saint-Germain looks to end a run of three consecutive draws when it travels to Lille, and Bordeaux hosts Nice.
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