STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – Mohamed Wael Larbi scored twice as Ajaccio’s remarkable run of form continued when they defeated out-of-sorts Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
Surprise high-flyers Angers missed the chance to retake second place from Monaco when they lost 1-0 at St Etienne while Olympique Marseille drew 1-1 at Girondins Bordeaux.
Ajaccio, in their maiden season in the top flight, did not win a match in their first 10 attempts but are now unbeaten in nine.
The Corsican side climbed to 12th on 24 points, two behind last year’s runners-up Lyon who have lost seven of their 19 games, as many as they did in the whole of last season.
Larbi opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when he controlled an Alexandre Coeff cross and finished calmly.
He then doubled the home side’s lead in the 67th minute when he evaded Maxime Gonalons before rifling past Anthony Lopes.
Clement Grenier pulled one back for Lyon in the 72nd minute but Hubert Fournier’s side have now gone six games without a win, losing five.
“We really wanted to finish 2015 beautifully,” Ajaccio coach Thierry Laurey told reporters, “and we did it.”
Defeat for Angers ended their five-game unbeaten streak and meant Monaco, who could only manage a goalless draw at 10-man Troyes on Saturday, stay second heading into the winter break.
St Etienne’s Benjamin Corgnet fired past Ludovic Butelle from the edge of the box in the 61st minute as Angers failed to clear a corner.
Cheikh Ndoye missed a good chance to equalise from close range moments later, heading over the bar after outjumping Moustapha Bayal Sall.
Angers, playing in Ligue 1 for the first time in 21 years, end 2015 in third place on 31 points. St Etienne are sixth on 29 points.
“The first half of the season has been excellent,” said Angers coach Stephane Moulin. “We are third … and that is something that will be etched forever in the history of this club.”
Marseille extended their unbeaten streak to six games with their draw at Bordeaux.
Alaixys Romao struck for the visitors in the 55th minute but Bordeaux equalised two minutes later through Wahbi Khazri and could have won it in the 90th when Diego Rolan fired against the crossbar.
Marseille are 10th on 25 points with Bordeaux down in 14th on 23.
(By Ed Dove. Editing by Tony Jimenez)