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01.02.2005 Football News

Essien goal helps Lyon open five-point lead

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PARIS (AP) -- Michael Essien scored a first-half goal Tuesday to help three-time defending champion Lyon to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Bastia and open up a five-point lead in the French first division.

Essien headed home Juninho's free kick in the 20th minute. It got worse for Bastia when defender Cedric Uras was sent off at the start of the second half for a foul on Lyon striker Pierre-Alain Frau.

But Bastia midfielder Pascal Chimbonda leveled in the 49th minute, turning in a free kick from Djibril Sidibe to earn Bastia a point and move it up to 18th place.

Lyon leads the league with 49 points from 24 matches, followed by Lille with 44. Monaco is in third place with 42 points but has a game in hand.

Lyon is trying to join Marseille and Saint-Etienne as the only teams to win four straight French titles.

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