Paris (AFP) – Marseille overcame the absence of injured leading scorer Bafetimbi Gomis to beat Rennes 2-0 in Ligue 1 on Saturday and boost their hopes of European qualification.
Clinton Njie and Florian Thauvin, the latter with a superb strike, both netted in the second half for the hosts as Marseille moved to within a point of fourth-placed Lyon, albeit having played two games more.
The result continued OM’s impressive form at home this season as they bounced back from a 3-2 defeat away at Nantes in their last outing.
On-loan Swansea City striker Gomis, scorer of 16 league goals this season, suffered a knee injury in that game that will rule him out for around a month.
In his absence Njie, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur but just back from helping Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations, played in an unfamiliar central attacking role and he saw a third-minute lob drop just the wrong side of the far post.
Dimitri Payet struck the bar as Marseille started well but they had to wait until the 59th minute to break the deadlock, Njie firing home first-time after the ball broke to him inside the area.
Five minutes later Marseille had scored again thanks to a superb goal from Thauvin.
The winger who had a disappointing stint in England with Newcastle United last season is enjoying a fine campaign back at Marseille and he smashed a superb strike high into the net on his left foot to make it 2-0.
There was no way back after that for Rennes, who have now gone 10 league games without a win.
On Friday, leaders Monaco needed a Bernardo Silva equaliser in the second half as they came from behind to draw 1-1 away at struggling Bastia.
It was not a great performance from the principality side ahead of their Champions League trip to Manchester City on Tuesday and Paris Saint-Germain can now close to within a point of top spot if they win at home to Toulouse on Sunday.
Nice can also close to within three points of Monaco if they win away at bottom side Lorient on Saturday night.