Ligue 1

Marseille beats USVA with late heroics

Soccer Marseille
Andre-Pierre Gignac (C) scored Marseille's winner against Valenciennes on Saturday.
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PARIS (AP)

Andre-Pierre Gignac's late winner gave Marseille a 1-0 win at Valenciennes on Saturday as last year's runner-up maintained its perfect start to the French league season.

Marseille is provisionally top of the table after Lyon dropped its first points of the season in a surprise 1-0 home loss to Reims, which also saw it miss a penalty. Saint-Etienne will join Marseille if it beats Lille on Sunday.

''At the beginning of the season, points are important but it's also a way to prepare ourselves for what will be a difficult September with a lot of matches in a row,'' Marseille coach Elie Baup said. ''The fact that we have nine points allows us to approach well our first big match against Monaco next weekend.

''We still have a lot of things to work on but it's better to correct things and to continue to work while winning our matches.''

Gignac scored with little more than five minutes remaining. Andre Ayew headed a corner toward goal and Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau could only palm the effort down for the onrushing Gignac to score his third goal in as many games.

Marseille should have taken the lead earlier in the match but failed to make the most of their opportunities.

Valenciennes had a chance to level near the end but Opa Nguette fired wide of the left upright when all alone in front of an empty net.

The rain was pouring down in Lyon and the players were clearly finding it difficult on the sodden pitch. So difficult were the conditions that there was more than a half hour delay to the start of the second half as groundsmen worked on the waterlogged pitch.

Play eventually did resume and Alexandre Lacazette went close to giving Lyon the lead on the hour mark with a deft chipped volley which crashed off the crossbar - although the striker was flagged offside.

Lyon should have broken the deadlock in the 71st minute when it was awarded a penalty for a push on Jordan Ferri by Reims striker Gaetan Courtet. However, Clement Grenier blazed his spot kick over the bar.

Reims scored a somewhat fortunate winner five minutes later when Odair Fortes' cross took a huge deflection off Milan Bisevac and the ball looped over Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and into the back of the net.

''We're really disappointed,'' Lyon coach Remi Garde said. ''We did what we needed to do to win. We just couldn't finish it off. We had our chances. Since the start of the season we have controlled half our matches. It's really hard to leave here with zero points. A draw, at least, would have reflected the match. We have to grin and bear it.''

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Newly-promoted Guingamp picked up its first points of the campaign with a 2-0 win over Lorient.

Guingamp was the only team without a point following the first two matches, but two goals from Mustapha Yatabare handed it a deserved victory.

Montpellier left it late but snatched a first victory of the campaign, beating 10-man Sochaux 2-1.

Roy Contout gave Sochaux the lead in the 43rd minute, firing in a rebound after seeing his original shot blocked. However, Montpellier was level two minutes later, thanks to Hilton's strike.

Sochaux was reduced to 10 men with little more than 15 minutes remaining when Cedric Kante was sent off following a tackle on Remy Cabella, who was clean through on goal.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Sochaux looked set to cling on for a point before Siaka Tiene fired in the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Bordeaux also won its first match of the season, beating Bastia 1-0. Henri Saivet's 32nd-minute free kick was enough to hand all three points to Bordeaux, which completely dominated the match.

Elsewhere, Rennes won 2-1 at Evian. Nelson Oliveira scored the first from the penalty spot in the 11th minute after Youssouf Sabaly had fouled Jonathan Pitroipa, and the Portugal striker doubled his tally in the 34th.

Kevin Berigaud pulled one back for Evian four minutes into the second half with a stunning 25-yard strike.

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