Sebastien Loeb completed the third Acropolis Rally win of his illustrious career as he triumphed by 40 seconds in Greece.

The Frenchman, chasing his ninth world title in succession, extended his lead in the standings to 30 points with seven races remaining despite suffering a puncture on stage 20 today.

Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was second, with Jari-Matti Latvala third despite winning 10 of the 22 stages.

"This rally was so long and difficult," Loeb said.

"We had some fortune in the morning, but in general we had to fight really hard. It was really good. I tried to always keep my rhythm and do what I felt. I tried to manage the car and the tyres."

Reflecting on his puncture after stage 20, he said: "I had a puncture, I don't know where. It was on the rear left after three kilometres and I said to Daniel (Elena, co-driver) 'puncture' so we decided to change the wheel immediately because it would be impossible to finish without breaking anything.

"After that we pushed. I knew I had a good lead and could do it safely without taking a big risk so that's what we did."

Loeb's title bid was further boosted by the retirement of nearest challenger Petter Solberg on today's opening stage when he hit a tree, taking a wheel off his car.

That allowed Hirvonen to leapfrog the Norwegian into second place in the standings, with Mads Ostberg moving third, While Latvala's strong showing on his return from injury.

"At least after a long time I'm back on the podium," said the Finn, who last troubled the upper reaches of the scorecard in race two of the season in Sweden.

Martin Prokop and Thierry Neuville finished fifth and sixth, continuing their strong recent form, while Sebastien Ogier was seventh.

FIA World Rally Championship Acropolis Rally Greece

1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 4:42:03.300, 2 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Citroen 4:42:43.300, 3 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford 4:45:08.100, 4 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Ford 4:48:19.700, 5 Martin Prokop (Cze) Ford 4:49:49.800, 6 Thierry Neuville (Bel) Citroen 4:51:44.700, 7 Sebastien Ogier (Fra) Skoda 4:55:03.200, 8 Yazeed AL Rajhi (Rsa) Ford 5:02:15.500, 9 Ott Tanak (Est) Ford 5:05:22.200, 10 Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (Qat) Mini 5:10:43.800