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Marseille beats Nantes 2-0 in French league

MARSEILLE beat Nantes 2-0 to take the provisional lead in the French league yesterday and put defending champion Lyon under pressure.

Earlier, Bordeaux routed Le Havre 3-0 to keep pace in the title race and go level on points with Lyon, which has a game in hand and will host Sochaux today.

Marseille tops the standings with 55 points, two more than Bordeaux and Lyon.

"It feels good," Marseille coach Eric Gerets told Canal Plus television. "Of course we have to wait for the (Lyon) match tomorrow. But the most important will be our place at the end of the championship."

Argentine defender Renato Civelli headed in a free kick from Boudewijn Zenden to put Marseille ahead in the 55th minute and Brazilian striker Brandao added the second goal three minutes later, converting a rebound with a header after Nantes defender Yohann Poulard diverted a cross from Zenden.

In Le Havre, France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff took a pass from Jussie to score from close range in the 12th for Bordeaux before Senegal center back Souleymane Diawara headed in a corner kick in the 58th from Geraldo Wendel, who sealed the win with a free kick in the 89th.

Also, it was: Lille 2, Grenoble 1; Rennes 0, Valenciennes 0; Nice 2, Caen 2; Auxerre 2, Le Mans 0; and Nancy 0, Monaco 1.

In Lille, Brazilian midfielder Michel Bastos notched his 12th goal this season by converting a penalty kick in the 11th after Franck Beria was fouled inside the area.

Bastos then beat the offside trap on a counterattack to set up Slovakia forward Robert Vittek who poked the ball into an empty net in the 40th.

Sandy Paillot pulled one goal back for mid-table Grenoble in the 90th, but Lille kept alive its title hopes by moving to 52 points.

In Rennes, Kader Mangane was red-carded in the 25th for a violent tackle on Jonathan Lacourt, but Valenciennes was also reduced to 10 men in the 58th after Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez was sent off for tripping Stephane M'Bia.

Rennes lost ground in the chase for a European spot with 48 points while Valenciennes stretched its unbeaten run in the league to 12 games.

Nice escaped with a point after Olivier Echouafni equalized in the 89th by heading in a free kick from David Hellebuyck. Loic Remy had given Nice the lead in the sixth minute by dribbling past goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux, but Caen leveled with an own-goal from defender Vincent Hognon in the 66th and went ahead when Nicolas Seube unleashed a powerful strike from 20 meters in the 76th to make it 2-1. Caen defender Gregory Leca was sent off in the 83rd after collecting a second yellow card.

In Auxerre, Poland forward Ireneusz Jelen charged down the left flank and dribbled past a defender before beating goalkeeper Yohann Pele in the eighth. Poland midfielder Dariusz Dudka doubled the lead for Auxerre in the 19th with a low shot from the edge of the box.

In Nancy, South Korea midfielder Park Chu-young headed in a cross from Juan Pablo Pino in the 70th to give the victory to mid-table Monaco.

Today, Paris Saint-Germain visits Toulouse and Saint-Etienne faces Lorient.


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