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Fourth successive title for Lyon

May 09, 2005 16:20 IST

Olympique Lyon snatched their fourth Ligue 1 title in a row with a 2-1 win over AC Ajaccio on Sunday to cap a campaign they dominated from the start.

Lyon joined former giants St Etienne and Olympique Marseille as the only clubs to be crowned four times in succession.

Les Verts were in a class of their own from 1967 to 1970 while Marseille were champions from 1989 to 1992.

Thanks to Sunday's victory over 10-man Ajaccio, Lyon have an unassailable 11-point lead over Lille with three matches left.

It's only the third time in the history of the French first division that a club has won the title so early. Reims and Nantes achieved the same feat in 1960 and 1966 respectively.

"I'm just happy for the guys tonight," said coach Paul Le Guen. "We had a fabulous side this season. We deserved this title.

"We fought from the start of the season and we provided a level of play which was steady and fantastic. We were a great side."

"One title is something great for a club but four titles are almost unbelievable," said chairman Jean-Michel Aulas. "It's the result of long and patient work over the last 10 years."

"We're obviously a great team," said striker Sylvain Wiltord. "I came here from Arsenal to take on a new challenge and I've ended up with a title. It's just happiness and Lyon will again be the team to watch next season."

FIFTH TITLE

"We are going to make some extra financial efforts for the next season," Aulas said. "We are going to chase a fifth title in a row but we will also look to win the Champions League.

"We want to go to the Stade de France where the 2006 final will take place. To me, having the final in Paris looks like a sign of destiny."

"Now we are just like St Etienne and Olympique Marseille," said midfielder Mahamadou Diarra. "It really means something. I'm just proud to be part of it.

Before they could celebrate the triumph in front of their home crowd, Lyon had to struggle against a brave AC Ajaccio side who played with 10 men for the whole of the second half.

Defender Mamadou Seck was shown a red card for deliberate handball three minutes before the interval.

The champions dominated most of the match but had to wait for a diving header from Govou in the 35th to find the net.

Ajaccio goalkeeper Stephane Porato was outstanding as he stopped a penalty and a dangerous free kick in the first half.

Striker Johan Dumont pulled a goal back for the visitors just after the interval but Lyon captain Claudio Cacapa scored what proved to be the winner when he netted from a cross by midfielder Florent Malouda in the 62nd minute.

There was just time for France striker Wiltord to be denied a goal as he was harshly given offside with nine minutes left.

Ajaccio's defeat leaves them in 16th place in the standings, only one point above the relegation zone.

On Saturday, second-placed Lille tamed visitors Paris St Germain 1-0 thanks to a late goal by teenage substitute Kevin Mirallas to consolidate their position in the standings.

The northern team lead Monaco by three points after the principality team were held to a goalless draw at Stade Rennes.

Marseille slumped to a clumsy 3-2 home defeat by struggling Caen, raising doubts over coach Philippe Troussier's future.

Marseille are fourth in the standings five poins adrift of Monaco with 53 points from 35 matches.

Pierre Serisier
Source:
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