PARIS (AFP) - Two-goal Juninho hailed Lyon's "test of character" as they came back from two goals to win 3-2 against Nice to take top spot in the French league on Saturday.
A Karim Benzema penalty four minutes into injury time earned the seven-times reigning champions the victory, putting them two points ahead of Marseille, who could only draw 1-1 at Bordeaux.
Habib Bamogo and Loic Remy had put Nice two goals ahead after the first 20 minutes, before goals from Juninho four minutes before the break and in the 74th minute, brought Lyon level.
A delighted Juninho said: "We were led 2-0 but we didn't panic. We continued to play and we created a good number of chances before finally winning 3-2. It was a test of character.
"We were led by two goals at home but we did not give up mentally against a well-organised team who knew how to counter attack really well. However, even though they were ahead we felt Nice were nervous. Perhaps they doubted the result would stay like that and we took advantage of that."
With Sidney Govou and Benzema starting on the bench and Jeremy Toulalan rested, Lyon struggled at the start with Nice making the most of their only two attacks to find goals against a Lyon still trying to find their shape defensively.
Bamogo, well fed by David Hellebuyck, got the better of Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris to find the net after just three minutes before Remy got the second on 20 minutes again making the most of a poor defensive performance with Brazilian centre back Cris still to get near his best form.
Juninho reduced the deficit in the 40th minute through a freekick and Benzema's introduction at half-time had given Lyon yet another boost.
Juninho saw a freekick headed on to a post by Mathieu Bodmer just after the break, before Benzema himself had three good chances to score.
Jean II Makoun also had two headed opportunities from corners and Brazilian Ederson saw an effort saved by Nice keeper Lionel Letizi.
Juninho then equalised in controversial fashion in the 74th minute, as the assistant referee had already signalled offside before going back on his decision to the chagrin of the away fans.
Nice fans were unhappy again in the fourth minute of injury time however when a penalty was given for a handball by Vincent Hognon, leaving Benzema to step up to the spot, fire home, and take the three points for Lyon.
Marseille coach Eric Gerets was disappointed after their 1-1 draw at Bordeaux in Saturday's late game.
"Disappointed? You saw the match. We had four or five great goalscoring opportunities and our opponents never really got into the match because we were passing the ball around so well," Gerets said.
"Bordeaux were still not getting into the match in the second half and we had more good opportunities but we just could not get the victory."
Baky Kone got Marseille's goal after just three minutes following good work by Mamadou Niang, but Bordeaux equalised in spectacular fashion on 25 minutes when Marouane Chamakh, after a one-two with Yoan Gouffran, controlled the ball on his chest before volleying home with Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda hesitating on his line.
Monaco had a 2-0 home victory at home to Lorient and thanked new South Korean summer recruit Park Chu-Young for scoring one goal and setting up the other at the Louis II stadium.
Park was one of Monaco's three signings right at the end of the transfer window from FC Seoul.
Monaco also signed Switzerland international and former Lyon defender Patrick Muller on a two-year deal and Nigerian defensive midfielder Sani Kaita from Sparta Rotterdam for three seasons.
On Sunday, Paris Saint Germain and Nantes top the bill in the late match in the best of three fixtures.
|Juninho Pernambucano||39' 43' 73'|
|Coach: C. Puel|
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