- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

PARIS (AP) - French league leader Lyon asserted its title credentials ahead of a crucial game against defending champion Paris Saint-Germain with a gritty 0-0 draw at Monaco on Sunday.

The stalemate cut Lyon’s lead over Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain to two points, but the seven-time champions extended their unbeaten run to eight league matches and produced a sixth consecutive clean sheet against a Monaco side that has been unstoppable in recent weeks.

Lyon players showed that despite the loss through injury of striker Alexandre Lacazette - the league’s top scorer with 21 goals - they were able to play fine attacking football. Lacazette, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, has also been ruled out of the game against PSG.

The result suited both teams as Monaco, which has conceded just one goal in its last 13 matches in all competitions, drew level on points with fourth-placed Saint-Etienne, nine points behind the leaders.

“This is the minimum result we wanted, to leave Monaco nine points behind us,” Lyon coach Hubert Fournier said. “We had a good first half, without exposing ourselves to their counterattacks. The second half was more difficult, it was a test of our mental solidity. And we did not flinch. Without Alex, everybody did something extra, against the best defensive team in Europe.”

Both teams made a cautious start to an entertaining first half in which Lyon monopolized possession.

In the absence of Lacazette, Nabil Fekir shared the attacking duties with Yassine Benzia - with the two youngsters creating a couple of good chances.

Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic put on another flawless performance, coming out on top of a duel with Fekir in the 15th minute with a superb save before brilliantly pushing away a powerful 30-meter free kick from Corentin Tolisso on the half-hour mark.

The hosts again relied on their iron-clad back four but were also a threat. Leonardo Jardim’s players had the best chance of the match when Dimitar Berbatov powered his header onto the post in the 17th, with Lyon ‘keeper Anthony Lopes looking well beaten.

Moncao had a goal disallowed early in the second half when Joao Moutinho’s strike went straight in without any player touching the ball after the referee had awarded the hosts an indirect free kick.

As Monaco gradually took control, Fekir missed a chance to break the deadlock against the run of play in the 60th minute. Playmaker Yoann Gourcuff set him up with a through ball but the forward could only send his shot wide.

In rainy conditions, midfielder Julien Feret scored the winning goal as Caen beat lackluster Saint-Etienne 1-0 to secure a third straight win and move further away from the relegation zone.

Feret struck for the Normandy side in the 41st minute, netting his fifth league goal of the season after Nicolas Seube won the ball off Saint-Etienne midfielder Landry N’Guemo and played him through.

Feret almost set up another goal on the hour mark, feeding striker Herve Bazile but his back heel went just wide.

Saint-Etienne, which has failed to score in three consecutive league games, remained seven points behind third-placed PSG.

In Sunday’s other match, Bordeaux drew 1-1 at home to Guingamp.

Winger Claudio Beauvue enhanced his growing reputation with his fifth goal in four games - and 11th league goal of the season - to put mid-table Guingamp ahead in the 28th minute.

Defender Maxime Poundje leveled early in the second half for Bordeaux, which had midfielder Jaroslav Plasil sent off in the 78th.

Bordeaux is in seventh place, while Guingamp is 11th.

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