Bordeaux back in contention in Europe qualification battle

PARIS (AP) Forward Bertrand Traore scored two goals as seven-time champion Lyon kept the upper hand in its three-way fight for Champions League qualification with a 3-0 victory over Troyes on Sunday.

With two games left this season, Lyon remained second behind Paris Saint-Germain, which sealed the title with five games to spare last month.

Lyon has been in tremendous form in recent weeks, securing eight consecutive league wins. It kept its one-point lead over deposed champion Monaco intact after the Riviera side snatched a last-minute 2-1 win at Caen.

Fourth-place Marseille, which can also qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, defeated Nice 2-1 and is one point behind Monaco.

The 22-year-old Traore scored twice in the first half in the space of seven minutes, taking his tally for the season to 13 goals.

Maxwel Cornet, another promising forward aged 21, sealed Lyon’s win in the 88th minute from a tight angle.

SYLLA SHINES

Monaco needed a stoppage-time goal from teenage forward Moussa Sylla to end a three-match winless run with a 2-1 win at Caen and keep alive its hopes of securing the second automatic Champions League berth.

The 18-year-old Sylla scored both Monaco’s goals after being given his first start in attack because of a spate of injuries in Leonardo Jardim’s squad.

Sylla opened the scoring in the 13th from the rebound after Youri Tielemans hit the post, becoming the youngest scorer in the league this season at 18 years, 5 months.

He then made the most of a poor clearance by ‘keeper Remy Vercoutre to secure three crucial points after Ivan Santini leveled for the hosts.

Monaco had a nine-point lead over Lyon and was seven points clear of Marseille in March but had managed just one win in its past five games.

PAYET PEAKING

Three days after playing 120 minutes to qualify for the Europa League final, Marseille carried its continental form into the French league with a 2-1 win against Nice.

Marseille quickly recovered from a poor start at the Velodrome stadium, where Mario Balotelli silenced the home crowd in the fifth minute with a superb goal. Balotelli dribbled past two defenders inside the box and unleashed a shot past Steve Mandanda.

Marseille skipper Dimitri Payet, who assisted Valere Germain for the equalizer, then scored the winner with 18 minutes left from Clinton Njie’s back pass.

With France coach Didier Deschamps set to announce his World Cup squad later this month, Payet is peaking at the right time. The former West Ham player has been involved in six of Marseille’s last seven goals in all competitions and was named man of the match.

”I’m feeling far better than earlier this season when I was hampered by injuries,” Payet said. ”I’m just enjoying the moment.”

LILLE OUT OF DROP ZONE

Nicolas Pepe scored twice as Lille came from behind to win 3-2 at Toulouse and move out of the danger zone.

Pepe gave the visitors the lead after just five minutes with a back heel but Corentin Jean equalized only four minutes later from Andy Delort’s free kick.

Toulouse made it 2-1 at the stroke of halftime when Christopher Jullien scored for the first time this season. Lille fought hard for an equalizer that materialized in the 80th through a free kick from Yves Bissouma. Pepe was then set up by Luiz Araujo and rounded ‘keeper Alban Lafont to seal the win.

Lille moved one point above Toulouse, which dropped to 18th with 34 points.

METZ RELEGATED

Metz’s hopes of remaining in the top flight next season are over after slumping to a 2-1 home loss against Angers that sealed its fate.

In last place, Metz is trailing 18th-place Toulouse by eight points with two games left. The team which finishes 18th faces the third-place side in the second division in a playoff over two legs.

BACK IN CONTENTION

Brazilian forward Malcom scored his 10th league goal this season as Bordeaux kept its chances of qualifying for next season’s Europa League with a 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne.

Malcom completed Bordeaux’s victory deep in stoppage time with a long-range strike following first-half goals from Younousse Sankhare and Jules Kounde.

Remy Cabella had put Saint-Etienne in front in the 28th minute from the penalty spot but the hosts could not hold on and slumped to their first loss in 14 matches. Cabella had the chance to level after Saint-Etienne won a penalty for a handball in the 89th but Bordeaux goalkeeper Benoit Costil saved his attempt.

The win lifted Bordeaux to five points behind fifth-place Rennes.