Paris (AFP) – Marseille scored twice in the first 19 minutes and then spent a relaxed Sunday evening cruising to a 2-0 home victory over Montpellier and back into second place in Ligue 1.

The home team pressed hard at the start and were rewarded after nine minutes when Amine Harit cut in from the right, drew goalkeeper Jonas Omlin and then rolled the ball across the six-yard box to Bamba Dieng who shot into the empty net.

Dieng won the penalty that doubled Marseille’s lead 10 minutes later. 

Gerson’s clever backheel gave Dieng a yard of space but Jordan Ferri hacked him down. Cengiz Under converted the spot kick.

Omlin was sent off in added time, but by then the match had long been over.

Marseille gained the confidence boost of a fourth straight league win at the start of a difficult week. 

They travel to Greece to defend a one-goal lead against PAOK in Thessaloniki in an already acrimonious Europa Conference League tie on Thursday. 

They visit bitter rivals and runaway league leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

“These victories give us momentum,” said Marseille Jorge Sampaoli. 

“Now we have to recover and hope to have some players back for Thursday. Then there will be the game on Sunday with very little preparation time.”

Earlier in the day, fourth-placed Strasbourg’s hopes of catching Marseille suffered a blow when they conceded a last-minute equaliser to Lyon.

Ibrahima Sissoko gave the home team a 20th after a comical mix up in the home defence which also forced goalkeeper Anthony Lopes off injured. 

Karl Toko Ekambi equalised in the 90th minute but the 1-1 draw in the home of the European Parliament left Lyon 10th and even further from a place in Europe.

Fifth-placed Nice lost more ground in the race for a Champions League spot after going down 3-0 at Lens, who played over 70 minutes with 10 men.

Nice trainer Christophe Galtier accused his players of “turning up as tourists.”

At the other end of the table, Bordeaux ended an eight-match winless run by beating relegation rivals Metz 3-1 on Sunday to earn a first victory under coach David Guion and climb off the foot of the Ligue 1 table.

Metz took a first-half lead through Didier Lamkel Ze, who cut short a loan at Russian side Khimki following the invasion of Ukraine.

Ricardo Mangas equalised early in the second half and M’Baye Niang put Bordeaux ahead.

“Relief is not the word,” said Bordeaux coach David Guion. 

Hwang Ui-jo added a late third as Bordeaux switched places with Metz in the bottom two and moved to within a point of Saint-Etienne in the relegation play-off place.

Clermont are one point above Saint-Etienne in 17th following Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing by Paris Saint-Germain in which Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scored hat-tricks for the league leaders.

– Monaco eye Europe –

Monaco improved their prospects of European football next season with a 2-1 victory over Troyes courtesy of goals from Caio Henrique and Kevin Volland.

Nantes drew 1-1 at Brest following crowd trouble that held the game up for around 10 minutes in the second half.

The visitors led after Randal Kolo Muani’s goal but the game was briefly stopped as away fans threw flares onto the pitch.

A second, longer interruption followed shortly after half-time when a handful of Brest supporters attempted to invade the pitch to confront Nantes fans. One was later arrested.

The referee sent the teams to the changing rooms. After they returned, Brendan Chardonnet scrambled the ball in at a corner to earn a point for Brest.

“Since the beginning of the season, we’ve seen some unacceptable, horrible things. All the fans, we’re going to have to change our mentality,” said Chardonnet after the game.