Rémi Garde was not getting carried away despite Olympique Lyonnais opening up a five-point gap at the Ligue 1 summit on Sunday.
Lyon came up against an AS Saint-Étienne side unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions but made no mistake against their local rivals and secured a 1-0 victory thanks to a solitary Michel Bastos goal midway through the second half. Bastos had only climbed off the bench four minutes prior to that astute winning free-kick, a substitution which came swiftly off the back of the dismissal of Mouhamadou Dabo. The celebrations in the dugout at the final whistle told of the importance of the three points.
"It's a huge joy but there is no need to be over the moon," said Garde. "I had 11 leaders on the field, so congratulations to the squad and we dedicate this win to our fans." Many of those supporters had driven the 65km to cross the border between the Rhone and Loire counties as Lyon maintained their 18-year unbeaten run at St-Etienne.
Though it was not all plain sailing for the UEFA Europa League contenders – Clément Grenier's early injury-enforced exit followed by Dabo's red card – Lyon always looked to have the upper hand in midfield. For their part, Christophe Galtier's charges struggled to find their tempo and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang often cut an isolated figure up front.
"It was not our best game, but derby wins are always something to enjoy," added Garde. "It was a narrow win. We did some things well but I don't believe that we crushed the opposition."
With second-placed Paris Saint-Germain FC and FC Lorient the only other current top-eight teams to take maximum points this weekend, Lyon are well placed ahead of Wednesday's home game against AS Nancy-Lorraine and Sunday's trip to face Carlo Ancelotti's side.
"I don't think we deserved to lose," said Galtier. "The opposition was a bit better than us in some aspects of the game. No player is to blame. I just noticed my team was a bit nervous and made technical mistakes due to this. But they gave everything they could to peg them back." Next up for St-Etienne, eight points shy of top spot, are FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Lorient.
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