Karim Benzema's superb individual goal topped Lyon's 2-0 victory over Le Mans, propelling them four points clear of the pack in France, though recuperation time was at a premium before midweek UEFA Champions League action. Claude Puel's men welcome Steaua Bucharest at the Gerland stadium on Wednesday and this Sunday night fixture meant that they will have less rest than most.
The team, however, will be glad October's drop in form, where they lost points in the league, has been followed by a mini-revival no doubt Puel would love to continue against the Romanians in three days time. Lyon have now put together two victories in a row, following their 2-0 win over Sochaux in midweek, which followed two draws and a defeat.
"We put in a serious and well-executed performance and never let Le Mans play their game," Puel said. "It was important to score the second goal to make sure we kept in charge of the match. It also meant players could conserve their energy, particularly for the Champions League match on Wednesday which will come up very quickly. We now need to put an emphasis on recuperation because players have to be able to play one match after another."
Le Mans, who led by two goals before losing 3-2 in the same fixture last season, were holding their own early on till a wonderful solo goal from Benzema. A run down the right saw him faint to go inside his defender, before he cut out to the right and hit a chipped shot over goalkeeper Yohann Pele in-off the far post in a simply sublime piece of skill after 21 minutes. Juninho, benefiting as the ball spun randomly to him in Le Mans's area, took his time as he aimed and then slotted the ball through keeper Pele's legs for the second goal 11 minutes after the break.
Lyon, on 27 points from 12 matches, lead the league table by four points from Marseille and by six from both Bordeaux, who lost 1-0 at struggling Nancy, and Toulouse, who lost 1-0 at home to Caen. In an earlier match, Monaco's Korean star Park Chu-young scored his side's final goal in a 3-2 victory at Le Havre.