Quickfire strikes put Marseille in sight of Champions League


Paris (AFP) – Marseille hit back from a goal down to score twice in two minutes for a 2-1 win at Lille on Sunday which kept Andre Villas-Boas’ side comfortably on course for the Champions League.

The victory gave second-placed Marseille an 11-point lead over Rennes in third spot in French Ligue 1 where champions Paris Saint-Germain still lead the way with a 10-point cushion.

Lille stay fourth but are 12 points behind Marseille in the race for the two automatic qualifying places for next season’s Champions League.

Nigerian international Victor Osimhen gave Lille a 51st-minute lead pouncing onto Jonathan Bamba’s pass to beat Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda for his 13th goal of the season, the same number as PSG’s Brazilian superstar Neymar.

But Marseille were level in the 67th minute when Reinildo turned a header from Valere Germain into his own goal before Argentine striker Dario Benedetto grabbed the winner two minutes later.

A below-par Marseille could even afford the luxury of a missed penalty just on the hour when Lille keeper Mike Maignan saved from Valentin Rongier.

Victory was the perfect way for Marseille to bounce back from Wednesday’s French Cup exit at the hands of Lyon.

Lyon’s poor league form continued with a 1-1 home draw against Strasbourg at a blustery Groupama Stadium that leaves them languishing in mid-table.

Rudi Garcia’s side are 11th on 34 points after a fourth match without a win, one in which the away side struck the post twice late on.

“There wasn’t enough going forward,” said Garcia.

“We didn’t create enough goal-scoring opportunities and we didn’t shoot enough at goal. We didn’t do enough as the home side.”

Burkino Faso international Bertrand Traore gave the hosts the lead in the 21st minute when he stooped to head home Maxwel Cornet’s brilliant swinging cross.

Strasbourg, who sit seventh, three points away from the European places, were level just before the break. 

Kevin Zohi latched onto Majeed Arsis’s through ball and slotted home as the Lyon defence and the linesman had their arms aloft for offside.

The goal was initially ruled out but a VAR check showed that Zohi was onside before he fed his finish in off the post.

The hosts struggled to break down Strasbourg in the second half. The visitors came within inches of snatching the win in the dying moments.

With three minutes left Kenny Lala curled a shot off the post. 

Then Strasbourg somehow failed to grab the winner in stoppage time.

Dimitri Lienard’s free kick from the touchline slapped the base of the post and sprung out to Alexander Djiku, who from centimetres out knocked the ball wide of the other upright as his teammates looked on in horror.

Third-placed Rennes suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Reims.

Brest moved seven points clear of the relegation zone after a 3-2 win against Saint-Etienne that plunges the 10-time French champions to within just two points of the drop.

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