French league leader Marseille beats Nantes 2-0
Marseille, France: Florian Thauvin scored one goal and created another to help Marseille beat Nantes 2-0 Friday and provisionally extend its lead atop the French league to four points.
The 21-year-old Thauvin, a France youth international, put Marseille in front with his fourth league goal this season then found defender Rod Fanni with a fine cross for his team's second goal as Nantes' nine-match unbeaten run came to an end.
After its seventh consecutive home win, Marcelo Bielsa's team tops the standings with 34 points, with Nantes trailing 10 points behind in fifth position after 15 games.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain can stay within one point of the leaders with a win against Nice on Saturday.
"Compared to last year, they have a different mentality," said Nantes coach Michel Der Zakarian. "They are making efforts together and make (their opponents) run and play one-on-one duels. Marseille can bother PSG."
Nantes, the best defensive team in the league with just nine goals conceded before its trip to the Velodrome, was dangerous on the break in the first half but lacked the finishing touch.
Der Zakarian's side created its first chance after eight minutes when a glanced header from Serge Gakpe ended in Remi Gomis's path, with the Nantes midfielder firing a 20-meter strike that forced goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to fist the ball away.
Marseille enjoyed most of the possession and broke Nantes' defense in the 24th. After retrieving the ball on the right, Dimitri Payet crossed it in the box for Thauvin, who slotted home with a superb left-footed flick.
Nantes missed the chance to level as Mandanda was decisive again to deny a good effort from Georges-Kevin Nkoudou before Fanni extended the hosts' lead with a header at the near-post from Thauvin's cross in the 39th.
Marseille stayed in control after the interval and Mandanda enjoyed a quiet second half, although the French international was on his guards to stop Jordan Veretout's effort 18 minutes from time.
"It was not an easy win, because Nantes played with discipline, but we were solid at the back," said Mandanda.