French Ligue One Roundup, Apr. 3

BY foxsports • April 3, 2011

Defending champion Marseille stayed within four points of French league leader Lille after winning 1-0 at Lens on Sunday from Benoit Cheyrou's second-half goal.

Cheyrou beat three defenders before unleashing a curled shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner in the 69th minute for his third goal this season.

With nine rounds left, Lille is closing on its first title since 1954, but Marseille is still in the hunt after taking 25 points from a possible 30 in its past 10 matches.

Second-place Marseille moved three points clear of No. 3 Rennes. Lyon trails Lille by eight points after throwing away a 2-0 lead at Nice by conceding two last-minute goals to draw 2-2.

"We strengthened our position in the table," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said. "We are trying to keep (Lille's) pace, and even if everything is not perfect, we are showing improvement in our play and mentally."

Lens had the best chance of the first half, Eduardo hitting the crossbar with a header in the 34th minute after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda had completely missed his attempted clearance.

Mandanda made up for his blunder in the 41st, tipping away Issam Jemaa's header from close range four minutes after Marseille striker Loic Remy had missed a one-on-one chance with 'keeper Vedran Runje.

After a period of pressure from the hosts, Eduardo found an unmarked Sebastien Roudet in the box with a precise header but the midfielder sent his volley just wide in the 61st.

Struggling Lens looks destined for the drop, now five points below safety in 19th place.

At Nice, Eric Mouloungui beat Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 90th minute and Renato Civelli got the equalizer in stoppage time.

Kim Kallstrom and Lisandro Lopez scored in the first half for Lyon.

"We were weak. Given our ambitions and objectives, the Nice draw is difficult to accept," Lyon coach Claude Puel said. "We're furious with ourselves."

Nice extended its unbeaten run to five matches and is three points above the relegation zone.

"We have good reasons to be disappointed but Nice had the best chances," Lyon sports director Bernard Lacombe said. "It was a miracle that we were two goals ahead. Our team is lacking in leaders and we need to stop talking about the title. We need to qualify for the European Cup."

Also Sunday, Saint-Etienne was held to a 1-1 home draw by Valenciennes.

Lyon played cautiously through most of the first half but managed to convert its rare chances.

Kallstrom opened the scoring in the 21st with a curled free kick from the right that easily beat goalkeeper David Ospina.

Former Lyon defender Francois Clerc had a good chance to level six minutes later but volleyed wide after Civelli picked him out with a fine pass.

Nice was made to pay for a lapse in concentration just before halftime when Mouloungui lost the ball in his own half. Following a swift counterattack led by Maxime Gonalons, Bafetimbi Gomis crossed the ball for Lopez, who coolly slotted home in the 44th.

Nice striker Daniel Ljuboja was fouled in the box in the 47th but the former Paris Saint-Germain player saw his effort from the spot denied by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a fine save to his right.

Lyon started to get the upper hand as its superior fitness showed and could have scored two more goals with France midfielder Yoann Gourcuff and Kallstrom both hitting the post in the last 20 minutes.

Lyon looked set for victory when Pape Diakhate was sent off for an ugly foul on Abdou Traore in the box, and Mouloungui converted the penalty to pull one back.

Nice kept pushing in extra time and was rewarded when Civelli diverted a shot from Nemanja Pejcinovic to level after Lyon defenders failed to clear a corner.

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