RECAP: RENNES 1 - 2 LYON
With Raymond Domenech in the crowd, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes surrendered a first-half lead to visitors Lyon as their four-match winning streak came to an unceremonious end Saturday evening.
Bocanegra started and played the full 90 minutes for the seventh consecutive game but could not prevent Lyon from rising to the top of the standings alongside Montpellier, albeit above Bordeaux who have two games in hand.
Despite Lyon Coach Claude Puel resting several starters with next week's Champions League return leg at Bordeaux in mind, Lyon nearly caught the home team off guard five minutes in when an early cross from Kim Kallstrom found Ederson, whose diving header skidded inches wide of the right post.
Rennes, however, countered quickly to better effect: Sylvain Marveaux playing through Jimmy Briand whose timely chip cleared goalkeeper Hugo Lloris before bouncing against the left post. Asamoah Gyan, however, was on hand to tap in the rebound for his 13th goal of the season.
Both teams continued attacking, with Lyon enjoying more quality possession in the final third of the field. Lyon's ever-dangerous Brazilian playmaker, Michel Bastos, heir apparent to compatriot Juninho Pernambucano, nearly added a riposte nine minutes from halftime with a well-struck shot from the left side of the box but Nicolas Douchez responded with a fine kick save.
Lyon had another glaring chance after a corner in the 43rd minute. A corner found Jean-Alain Boumsong who showed good composure to hold off two defenders before laying back to Ederson whose point-blank shot at Douchez from 10 yards failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
Rennes, despite the early explosive play of Marveaux and Briand in the opposing half, were still struggling for possession in the midfield before the break. After more clever link-up play in Lyon's half, the pair nearly set up a goal in the 45th minute but defender Lamine Gassama interfered with a timely clearance.
Just eight minutes after halftime, the momentum shifted in favor of the visitors with a textbook counter attack. Bastos received a ball on the left wing from Miralem Pjanic and shimmied past Rod Fanni before hammering in a trademark shot from a tight angle past Douchez.
Another eight minutes minutes later, Lyon, high on confidence, found the winner when Ederson crossed early to Lisandro Lopez and the Argentinean nodded in from ten yards, an effort which the goalkeeper could have done better to keep out. It was all Lyon from that point on as Rennes struggled to break through their midfield.
With starters Jérémy Toulalan, Bafetimbi Gomis, Cesar Delgado, and Anthony Reveillere all rested for next Wednesday's c crucial return leg against Bordeaux, it seems Claude Puel's gamble paid off. Rennes Coach Frédéric Antonetti, meanwhile, will be looking for answers of his own in time for next Saturday, when his team faces Lorient, behind Rennes in eighth-place by one goal.