Ligue One Roundup, Feb. 21

Lille made up ground in the French title race on Sunday after

substitute Pierre Aubameyang struck a late winner in a 2-1 victory

over Rennes.

Elsewhere, Michel Bastos scored a hat trick to help Lyon rout

Sochaux 4-0, while Mamadou Niang performed the same feat for

Marseille in a 3-1 victory over Nancy at the Stade Velodrome.

Bordeaux tops the standings with 51 points, three clear of

second-place Montpellier, which lost 1-0 at Saint-Etienne on

Saturday. Lille is third with 47 points, one more than fourth-place

Lyon.

“The victory came from the bench, which means that the team’s

mindset is good,” Lille coach Rudi Garcia told Canal Plus

television. “We deserved the victory because we had the best

chances. We’ll try to go as high as possible (in the standings).”

In Rennes, Pierre-Alain Frau gave Lille a 10th minute lead,

setting off on a run from midfield before firing home a low

diagonal shot from the edge of the box, taking his tally to 10

goals this season.

Jerome Leroy equalized for Rennes in the 26th. Ghana forward

Asamoah Gyan jumped to divert a long ball from Kader Mangane toward

Leroy, who took a touch before beating goalkeeper Mickael Landreau

with a side-footed finish.

Lille nearly recaptured the lead from a corner in the 42nd

minute, when Adil Rami’s header crashed against the bar.

But Aubameyang made no mistake when he pounced on a rebound

to score from close range in the 89th minute after goalkeeper

Nicolas Douchez had blocked a shot from Stephane Dumont.

Rennes, down in ninth place with 37 points, is virtually out

of contention for a European spot.

In Sochaux, Bastos opened the scoring after four minutes with

a low free kick.

The Brazilian winger doubled the lead in the 24th with a

powerful strike under the bar off a cross from Bafetimbi Gomis.

Bastos added his third a minute later from a tight angle,

volleying home a high cross from Brazilian playmaker Honorato

Ederson.

Argentine forward Lisandro Lopez intercepted a backpass to

net his 10th goal this season and put the result beyond doubt in

the 78th minute.

“We’d like to play such matches every time,” Lyon defender

Jean-Alain Boumsong said. “There has been a lot of criticism over

our style of play but tonight our football was brilliant.”

Before the game, Sochaux’s American forward Charlie Davies

performed a ceremonial kickoff – an event held prior to the

official kickoff at the Stade Bonal.

Davies is recovering from severe injuries after a car crash

last October.

The American striker hopes to get in contention for a callup

to the United States squad for the World Cup in South Africa and is

trying to be fit to play for his club by the end of the season.

In Marseille, Senegal striker Niang outjumped the Nancy

defense to head in a cross from Charles Kabore in the ninth minute

to open the scoring.

Brazilian defender Andre Luiz leveled for Nancy four minutes

later off a pass from Issiar Dia.

But Niang volleyed home a cross from Taye Taiwo to make it

2-1 in the 34th before sealing the win in the 67th on a

counterattack, notching his 14th goal this season to become the top

goalscorer in the league.

“The most important thing is to win matches,” Niang said. “It

doesn’t matter who scores. We don’t care, we’re a team. We all want

to win together.”

Marseille remained in fifth place with 45 points but still

has a game in hand, while Nancy dropped to 14th place, level on

points with Sochaux.

Defending champion Bordeaux was scheduled to play Auxerre on

Saturday, but the match has been postponed to allow the French club

time to prepare for its Champions League game against Olympiakos

this week.

In Saturday’s other results, it was: Lens 3, Monaco 0; Nice

1, Lorient 0; Grenoble 0, Valenciennes 1; Paris Saint-Germain 1,

Toulouse 0; and Boulogne 1, Le Mans 3.