PARIS: Marseille stretched its winning run to seven games in all competitions to consolidate second place in the French league with a 2-0 victory over Montpellier on Sunday.
Amine Harit set up Senegal striker Bamba Dieng for the opener in the ninth minute. Turkey winger Cengiz Under doubled the lead with a penalty in the 19th after Montpellier midfielder Jordan Ferri brought down Gerson. Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin was sent off in the 90th for fouling Luis Henrique outside the area.
Marseille trailed runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain by 12 points but kept a three-point cushion over third-place Rennes.
The top two French clubs enter the group stage of the Champions League while the third-place club goes to the third qualifying round of the lucrative European competition.
“We are on a very good run of form,” Marseille midfielder Matteo Guendouzi told Amazon Prime Video. “We’re really having very good games now. We will be ready for the final sprint.”
Also Sunday, Nice’s Champions League hopes took a hit after a 3-0 defeat to 10-man Lens left the team fifth, five points behind Rennes.
Lens was down to 10 players in the 17th when wing back Massadio Haidara was sent off for kicking Youcef Atal while attempting a clearance.
Unhappy with the referee’s decision, Lens supporters threw projectiles onto the field, forcing stadium stewards to use a net in the 34th to protect Nice forward Amine Gouiri, who was taking a free kick.
Lens substitute Arnaud Kalimuendo scored against the run of play with a sliding effort in the 51st. Mali international Cheick Doucoure added a second goal by curling into the top corner in the 55th. Kalimuendo beat the offside trap to make it 3-0 in the 67th.
Nice itself finished with only nine players as Mario Lemina received a second yellow card for a foul on Doucoure in the 57th, and Brazilian center back Dante was red-carded for a scissor tackle on Kalimuendo in stoppage time.
“We conceded two goals with 11 men against 10 because we thought we no longer needed to defend and we didn’t respect the game,” Nice coach Christophe Galtier told Canal Plus television. “We played a Lens team made up of competitors, Lens played a Nice team made up of tourists.”
Lens climbed to eighth place, four points behind Nice and the Europa Conference League playoff spot.
Fourth-place Strasbourg extended its unbeaten run to nine games by drawing 1-1 with midtable Lyon.
Strasbourg striker Ludovic Ajorque knocked a high ball down for Ibrahima Sissoko, who capitalized on a defensive mix-up to slip the ball past Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes in the 20th. Cameroon winger Karl Toko Ekambi equalized in the 90th by converting a cross from Leo Dubois.
Strasbourg currently holds the Europa League spot but is just four points from the Champions League qualifying berth. The team’s best finish in the last 20 seasons was 10th in 2020.
Sixth-place Monaco edged Troyes 2-1 with goals from Caio Henrique and Kevin Volland to move within a point of the Europa Conference League playoff spot.
Lille drew 1-1 with Angers to lose ground in the race for European spots, trailing Monaco by two points. Angers took the lead with an own-goal from Lille defender Tiago Djalo in the 65th. But Kosovo winger Edon Zhegrova equalized with a long-range strike into the top corner in the 74th.
In the Brittany derby, Brest captain Brendan Chardonnet salvaged a 1-1 draw by converting a rebound in the 67th to cancel out Nantes striker Randal Kolo Muani’s 12th league goal in the 11th. The game was suspended twice because supporters threw flares onto the field in the first half and the field was then invaded by supporters in the second half.
Bordeaux snapped a four-game goal drought to beat Metz 3-1 and move within two points of safety and a point off the relegation playoff spot. The hosts rallied from a 1-0 deficit with goals from Portuguese wingback Ricardo Mangas, Senegal international M’Baye Niang and South Korea striker Hwang Ui-jo.
It was a third straight loss for Metz, which dropped to last place.