Marseille beats Lens 2-1 in French league
Paris: Marseille maintained its four-point lead atop the French league by defeating struggling Lens 2-1 on Sunday. Marseille winger Florian Thauvin scored the winning goal with a shot into the top corner in the 60th minute.
Cameroon defender Nicolas Nkoulou powered home a header to give the hosts the lead in 10th, but Lens forward Baptiste Guillaume equalized with a low strike in the 31st.
Marseille was down to 10 men in the 76th when midfielder Alaixys Romao picked up a second yellow card.
"We gave them some hope in the first half," Marseille defender Rod Fanni said. "We made quite a few mistakes and helped them a little bit get back into the match."
Elsewhere, Bordeaux climbed to fourth place by edging Toulouse 2-1 while Nantes slipped to sixth by drawing 1-1 with Rennes.
Marseille was looking to bounce back from two straight losses in all competitions and took the lead when Nkoulou headed home a corner from Thauvin.
However, Lens troubled the hosts by aggressively pressing high up the pitch. Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda punched away a 30-yard drive from Jerome Le Moigne in the 18th. Romao was lucky to only receive a yellow card in the 23rd for holding Lens forward Pablo Chavarria, who was clean through on goal.
Lens capitalized on a counterattack to level when Guillaume cut inside Rod Fanni to shoot past Mandanda.
Struggling to build up attacks, Marseille relied on set pieces to threaten. Thauvin met a corner from Dimitri Payet in the 38th but his volley was cleared off the line by Lens midfielder Wylan Cyprien.
Marseille tightened its control over the game in the second half. Andre-Pierre Gignac beat the offside trap to square the ball back to Thauvin, who scored with a side-footed finish from 12 yards.
Lens put Marseille under pressure in the closing minute following Romao's sending off for a cynical foul on Cyprien. However, Mandanda preserved the win in stoppage time by denying Lens substitute Yoann Touzghar with a leg save.
In Bordeaux, defender Marc Planus pounced on a free kick to open the scoring from close range in the 53rd before Uruguay forward Diego Rolan doubled the lead 10 minutes later by heading home a cross from Jaroslav Plasil.
Toulouse striker Aleksandar Pesic converted a cross from Martin Braithwaite to pull one back in the 68th.
At Stade de la Beaujoire, Pedro Henrique scored his first goal in the league to put Rennes ahead in the fourth minute. The Brazilian winger outpaced the Nantes defense to beat goalkeeper Remy Riou.
The hosts leveled in the 21st with an own goal from Rennes defender Sylvain Armand, who headed in a free kick from Nantes midfielder Jordan Veretout.