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November 23, 2009

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Auxerre tops as Bordeaux, Lyon stumble

SURPRISE package Auxerre knocked champion Girondins Bordeaux off the top of Ligue 1 with a 2-0 win over Monaco on Saturday.

The victory put the Burgundy side a point ahead of Bordeaux, which slumped to its first home Ligue 1 defeat in over two years, 0-1 against Valenciennes.

Mali defender Adama Coulibaly headed home a Benoit Pedretti free kick to put Auxerre in front just before halftime and Congolese midfielder Delvin Ndinga wrapped up its seventh consecutive win with a late goal.

Auxerre, French champion in 1996, has not been in the lead since February 2003. It has 26 points from 13 games, one more than Bordeaux and Olympique Lyon, third on goal difference after a 1-1 draw at bottom club Grenoble.

"First place at this stage doesn't mean much but we're happy with the three points," Auxerre goalkeeper Olivier Sorin said. "This is great for us and for our fans. I don't know how long we'll stay there, probably not for ever but it's nice."

Bordeaux had not lost before its fans since a 1-3 defeat by Lyon in October 2007.

Forward Mamadou Samassa scored the winner for Valenciennes with an angled shot on six minutes, sending the northerners up to fourth, three points off the pace.

Bordeaux, which was missing key players in playmaker Yoann Gourcuff and midfielder Alou Diarra, both sidelined with injuries, lost its second league match in succession after a 0-2 defeat at Lille.

Coach Laurent Blanc would have hoped for a better warm-up before the team from the wine capital entertains Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Lyon was widely favored to win at Grenoble, which had picked just one point from 12 games, and looked set to do so after Argentine winger Cesar Delgado put it ahead on 66 minutes.

Grenoble then had midfielder Laurent Courtois sent off in the 71st for throwing the ball at an assistant referee. Two minutes later Serbian forward Danijel Ljuboja earned the home side a share of the points.


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