French Ligue One Roundup, May 15

BY foxsports • May 15, 2011

Marseille's title challenge was dealt a blow as it was held 2-2 at Lorient on Sunday in the French league.

The defending champion trails Lille by three points but has played one game more. Lille can virtually seal the title if it beats Sochaux on Wednesday: it would then have a six-point lead and a much better goal difference with only two rounds left.

Lille beat holder Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the French Cup final on Saturday to win its first trophy since 1955.

''I don't know if the title is gone but it has moved away,'' Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said.

France winger Loic Remy notched his 13th goal this season to give Marseille the lead in the 14th minute. But Lorient defender Lamine Kone powered a header into the top corner to equalize in the 47th.

Lorient forward Kevin Gameiro flicked home a low cross from Morgan Amalfitano to make it 2-1 in the 80th before Marseille substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac leveled with a low shot in the 88th.

''We're really disappointed,'' Remy told Canal Plus television. ''Lille will be the new champion unless there's a miracle. It will be tough to sleep tonight because we've missed our chance.''

Elsewhere, Lens was relegated to the second division after a 1-1 draw with Monaco.

''There's no coincidence in football,'' Lens defender Alaeddine Yahia told RMC radio. ''We've been in the relegation zone since the fifth round. Everyone lapsed and did not play at his level.''

Also Sunday, it was: Saint-Etienne 1, Rennes 2; Caen 2, Montpellier 0; Valenciennes 1, Auxerre 1; Arles-Avignon 1, Toulouse 0; and Nancy 3, Nice 0. Lyon visits Brest on Monday, while Bordeaux hosts Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

In Lorient, Remy dribbled past defender Bruno Ecuele Manga to open the scoring from a tight angle. Marseille nearly added a second goal in the 24th when Ghana winger Andre Ayew made a cross for Remy, whose point-blank shot was stopped by Lorient goalkeeper Lionel Cappone. Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena pounced on the rebound but fired over the bar from six yards.

Lorient put Marseille under pressure after half-time. Kone outjumped Marseille defender Vitorino Hilton to head in a corner from Amalfitano. Then Gameiro made a cross-shot that Marseille goalkeeper had to tip over the bar in the 57th.

Marseille fought back in the 75th as Remy rounded the Lorient defense, but Cappone came off his goal line to deny the striker.

Gameiro then escaped Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara's marking to meet Amalfitano's cross and notch his 21st goal this season, tying Lille striker Moussa Sow as the top scorer in the league.

Gignac gave Marseille some hope two minutes from time. Benoit Cheyrou played him in with a backheel flick and the Marseille forward slipped the ball between the near post and the goalkeeper.

Marseille had a chance to win the match in the second minute of stoppage time, but Cheyrou could not put enough power on his downward header from three yards and Cappone was able to collect the ball before it crossed the line.

''We had that last chance that we can't convert and that would have given us three points,'' Deschamps said. ''But it's their first goal which hurt us. They equalize before we can even get into the second half. It took us a bit of time to rediscover some fluency in our game.''

Rennes snapped a nine-game winless streak to retain fifth place.

A long-range strike from Colombian forward Victor Hugo Montano put Rennes ahead after 10 minutes, while Bakary Sako leveled for Saint-Etienne by curling in a corner kick in the 28th.

Rennes restored its lead on the stroke of halftime when Jerome Leroy chested down a cross from Montano to fire home.

In Caen, winger Romain Hamouma scored one goal and made the other to secure all three points. He notched his ninth goal of the season by outpacing the Montpellier defense before beating goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren in the 27th minute. He then provided the pass for striker Kandia Traore to double Caen's lead in the 69th.

Foued Kadir gave Valenciennes the lead by nodding home a cross from Gael Danic in the 80th. But South Korea forward Jung Jo-gook equalized for mid-table Auxerre with a header in the 87th.

Kamel Ghilas scored with a close-range header in the 20th minute for Arles-Avignon as the last-place team earned its second victory of the season.

In Nancy, Morocco midfielder Youssouf Hadji scored from a rebound in the 34th after Pascal Berenguer's drive crashed against the post. Berenguer fired home a half-volley to make it 2-0 in the 76th before Bakaye Traore sealed the win with a curling shot four minutes from the end.

The result helped Nancy move out of the relegation zone.

''We showed tonight that we were not dead yet and that this team can move mountains despite a huge pressure,'' Nancy midfielder Berenguer told Canal Plus television. ''We've managed to turn things around and that bodes well for the remainder of the season.''

Nice was down to 10 men in the 67th when Renato Civelli was sent off for a foul on Nancy midfielder Jonathan Brison.

In Monaco, forward Benjamin Moukandjo found the net for the home side in the 14th with a first-time shot.

Lens defender Raphael Varane nodded in a corner kick to level in the fourth minute of stoppage time but could not save his team from relegation. Monaco dropped two points to fall in the relegation zone.

''It hurts a lot,'' Monaco coach Laurent Banide said. ''We lacked focus for 30 seconds. That's the way it is, that's football.''


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