Lyon hopes CL miracle sparks Ligue 1 run

Lyon needed a miracle Wednesday to advance in the Champions League, but it's no longer odd to see the French side in the last 16 of Europe's elite club event.

Finishing atop Ligue 1 is another matter.

While Lyon extended its run of last 16 appearances to nine straight with a 7-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb, plus help from Real Madrid, it has not ended a Ligue 1 season in first since its seven-year reign ended in 2008.

Although a three-season drought for a club that had never won a Ligue 1 crown before 2002 does not seem that long, the fact Lyon has continued to be one of the better teams in Europe proves it's capable of more domestically.

Lyon actually fell behind against Dinamo, but Bafetimbi Gomis pulled one score back just before half and scored three more times in a six-goal second half.

The result, coupled with Madrid's 3-0 win over Ajax, helped Lyon overtake the Dutch club for second place.

"What we did tonight was a real miracle," Lyon defender Dejan Lovren.

"It's difficult to find the words," Lyon coach Remi Garde said.

Now, Lyon has to turn more Champions League success into domestic success. The club is fourth on 29 points after 16 weeks, seven points behind Montpellier in the title race.

PSG and defending French champion Lille, which failed to qualify for the final 16 in the Champions League, also top Lyon with the midway point of the season just two weeks away.

Lyon visits Lorient on Sunday in the final match of the weekend, at which time it will know just how important three road points will be in the title race.

The club must move beyond the euphoria of the Champions League accomplishment, which president Jean-Michel Aulas called a "historic result for us."

Lorient has 23 points, just six behind Lyon, and has yet to lose at home this season. In eight home matches, Lorient has five wins and three draws. Lyon has lost four matches on the road and also has a draw in eight games this season.

Montpellier will try to maintain its two-point cushion over PSG on Saturday at Valenciennes, which is above the relegation zone only on goal differential.

PSG visits Sochaux on Saturday, when Marseille - which also advanced in the CL - hosts Bordeaux in a battle of two of the last three champions. Marseille won 3-2 at Borussia Dortmund to secure its knockout berth in the Champions League.

Also Saturday, Nancy hosts Ajaccio, Rennes hosts Brest, St Etienne hosts Caen, and Toulouse hosts Evian.

On Sunday, Lille will try to bounce back from its Champions League exit when it hosts Dijon, and Auxerre hosts Nice.