Resurgent Auxerre climbs to 3rd in French league

Nov 7, 2009 - 10:18 PM By JEROME PUGMIRE AP Sports Writer

PARIS(AP) -- Auxerre notched its sixth straight win in beating struggling Le Mans 1-0 and moved above Monaco into third place in the French league on Saturday.

Auxerre's attacking duo of Daniel Niculae and Irineusz Jelen caused problems throughout the match, and they combined to create the winner in the 51st minute. Jelen chased down Niculae's long pass and hit a powerful shot that goalkeeper Didier Ovono parried onto Andrade, who steered the ball into the net trying to clear it.

Coach Jean Fernandez has turned Auxerre's fortunes around in style after a terrible start to the season left the Burgundy club in 19th place with only one point and no goals scored after the first four games.

But Jelen's return has inspired the team and Auxerre has 23 points after 12 rounds, putting it level with Lyon and two points behind leader Bordeaux.

Lyon and Bordeaux have a game in hand and play on Sunday, when Lyon hosts Marseille and Bordeaux travels to Lille.

Monaco missed the chance to pressure Lyon and Bordeaux when it was held to 0-0 at home by Grenoble, ending Grenoble's miserable losing streak and giving the last-place club its first point of the season.

Monaco had several chances to win the match at Stade Louis II, with Grenoble goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom keeping out an effort from Frederic Nimani in the 85th minute, and seeing a shot from Mathieu Coutadeur sail just over the crossbar in the 71st.

The draw leaves Monaco one point behind Auxerre and just one point ahead of fifth-place Lorient, which thumped Boulogne 5-0 thanks to two more goals from its highly rated striker Kevin Gameiro, taking his tally to six this season.

Lorient took the lead when Gameiro clipped the ball neatly over goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone after running onto Morgan Amalfitano's pass, and Gameiro's strike partner Marama Vahirua made it 2-0 seconds before half time to put the home side firmly in control.

Gameiro got his second goal early in the second half when he hit a quick shot past Kone, and midfielder Pierre Ducasse scored his first goal for the club since joining on loan from Bordeaux to make it 4-0 in the 52nd.

Amalfitano completed the rout in injury time.

Lens moved out of the relegation zone and into 17th place with a 2-1 win at Sochaux, which dropped to 15th place.

Defender Romain Sartre put Lens ahead in the 38th minute and Razak Boukari added the second Lens goal in the 85th, before Sloan Privat pulled a goal back in injury time for Sochaux.

In Saturday's other results, it was: Valenciennes 1, Montpellier 1; Nancy 0, Saint-Etienne 1; and Paris Saint-Germain 0, Nice 1.

Colombian striker Victor Hugo Montana opened the scoring for Montpellier in the second minute, heading in a cross from Karim Ait Fana. Carlos Sanchez Moreno equalized in the 52nd when he was left with a simple tap-in after Renaud Cohade's shot came back off the crossbar.

Nice caught PSG with a classic counterattack goal at Parc des Princes.

With PSG pushing for a winning goal, midfielder Stephane Sessegnon took a free kick that Nice managed to clear up the field. The ball broke left to Anthony Mounier and his cross was headed home by France striker Loic Remy.

Dimitri Payet got Saint-Etienne's winning goal midway through the second half.

Toulouse faces Rennes in Sunday's other game.

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