Marseille back to winning ways, Balotelli injured

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              Marseille's Florian Thauvin, left, challenges for the ball with Nimes' goalkepper Paul Bernardoni, during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Nimes, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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PARIS (AP) — With Mario Balotelli forced off the field early in the game, Valere Germain and Luiz Gustavo took on the scoring responsibilities as Marseille beat Nimes 2-1 in the French league on Saturday.

The former European champions ended their three-match winless run to leapfrog Saint-Etienne into fourth place. With six matches left to play, Marseille moved within five points of third-placed Lyon, which lost 2-1 at Nantes on Friday.

Marseille struggled to break the deadlock against its well-organized southern rival but went ahead in the 72nd minute from a set piece when Germain scored from Dimitri Payet’s corner with a powerful header at the near post.

Gustavo made it 2-0 in the next minute with a clever curled shot from outside the area that lobbed Nimes goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.

Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara ensured some suspense with a handball in the box that gave Nimes a penalty with eight minutes left. Teji Savanier converted the penalty with a low shot under Steve Mandanda.

Hosts Marseille took a blow early on when Balotelli, who has scored seven league goals in 11 games since joining from Nice, suffered a thigh injury and was forced to leave the pitch in the 32nd.

“He stopped playing because he was not at 100%,” Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said. “He wanted to continue, but it did not make sense to play with a weakened player.”

Marseille pressed hard after the interval and found the net twice but both goals were ruled out by VAR for offside before Germain finally ended the deadlock.

With a 20-point lead at the top, runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain has another chance to seal a sixth title in seven years when it travels to second-placed Lille on Sunday night.

OTHER RESULTS

Captain Jeremy Sorbon scored late to salvage an important point for Guingamp in the fight against relegation, securing a 3-3 draw at Strasbourg.

Guingamp twice relinquished its lead in Alsace and then trailed 3-2 until the 87th minute when Sorbon headed home the equalizer from the rebound after Marcus Thuram hit the crossbar.

The Brittany side vacated last place to Caen, which lost 1-0 at home against Angers.

Monaco’s unimpressive season continued with a 0-0 draw against Reims, a result that left the Principality side seven points away from 18th place. A playoff between the club which finishes 18th and the team ending third in the second division is held at the end of the season.