Ligue One Roundup, Feb. 14
Brazilian midfielder Wendel scored twice as Bordeaux recovered from
two consecutive losses to beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 on Sunday and hold
on to a three-point lead in the French league.
Bordeaux, which had won only one of its last four league games, was beaten 4-2 at Rennes last weekend and lost to Monaco at home in the French Cup earlier in the week.
Striker Marouane Chamakh, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal next season, put Bordeaux ahead in the 12th minute when he rose above Saint-Etienne defenders and headed home from Wendel's free kick.
Wendel extended his team's lead in the 28th minute with a curling 25-meter free kick past goalkeeper Jeremy Janot.
Saint-Etienne midfielder Bakary Sako pulled a goal back with a powerful free kick from outside the box just before halftime and his side progressively took a grip on the game after the interval.
Argentine striker Gonzalo Bergessio missed a penalty in the 72nd minute after a handball by Chamakh and Saint-Etienne paid the price six minutes later when Wendel scored from close range following a swift counterattack.
"We ended a negative run," France and Bordeaux playmaker Yoann Gourcuff said. "Even if we are not fully reassured by our game, our organization on the pitch was far better tonight."
Bordeaux has 51 points, three more than second-place Montpellier, which beat Grenoble 1-0 on Saturday to claim a fifth consecutive win in the league. Saint-Etienne lies in 16th place with 23 points, six above the relegation zone.
Earlier Sunday, Poland striker Ireneusz Jelen scored the winner as Auxerre moved up to sixth place with a 1-0 win over Rennes.
Auxerre, which has 42 points from 24 games, recovered from a 5-0 humiliating loss at last-place Grenoble last weekend and kept up its bid for a European spot next season.
Auxerre created plenty of chances and saw its efforts rewarded when Jelen, who had scored a hat-trick earlier this week in the French Cup, found the net with a 35-meter drive following a bad clearance from goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez in the 42nd minute.
"The team is strong and Jelen's goal just before halftime came at the right moment," Auxerre midfielder Delvin Ndinga said.
Toulouse, playing without France striker Andre-Pierre Gignac after he was sidelined for three weeks with a groin strain, secured a 1-1 draw at Lorient courtesy of a late goal from midfielder Daniel Braaten.
Kevin Gameiro had notched his 10th goal of the season with a low shot from the edge of the box to put Lorient ahead in the 55th minute after being perfectly set up by Sigamary Diarra.
Braaten leveled in the 78th minute with a superb right-foot volley from Daniel Congre's cross.
On Saturday, third-place Lille beat northern rival Boulogne-sur-Mer 3-1 to stay in the title race with 44 points while seven-time champion Lyon moved on to 43 points with a 1-0 win over Lens three days before hosting Real Madrid in the Champions League.