PARIS: Defender Sead Kolasinac scored the winner Sunday as Marseille beat Rennes 1-0 to post a seventh consecutive away win in the French league and strengthen their bid for Champions League football next season.
Marseille traveled to Brittany on the back of a shock elimination in the French Cup midweek against second-tier Annecy, which followed a bitter 3-0 home loss to Paris Saint-Germain that badly damaged their hopes of winning the league title. Leaders PSG beat Nantes 4-2 on Saturday and have an eight-point lead over Marseille.
The nine-time French champions broke Rennes’ solid defense in the 57th minute from a free kick quickly played by Valentin Rongier. Cengiz Under got the ball down the right and crossed at the far post behind Rennes players for Kolasinac, who lashed onto the ball and beat former Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from close range.
Marseille extended their lead over third-place Monaco and Lens to four points.
BEN YEDDER’S DOUBLE
Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice but could not prevent Monaco from drawing 2-2 at struggling Troyes and losing points in the race for the Champions League.
Monaco trailed 1-0 with 10 minutes left in the Champagne town after Rominigue Kouame put the hosts in the driving seat with a first-half goal before Ben Yedder struck twice in the space of four minutes.
Ben Yedder leveled in the 79th with a left-footed low shot, then doubled his tally from Aleksandr Golovin’s cross. Ben Yedder’s 16th goal this season was initially disallowed but eventually given after a VAR check.
Only PSG star Kylian Mbappe, who is the league top scorer with 18 goals, has bagged more than Ben Yedder in the French league this season.
Monaco could not hold onto their lead and conceded in added time as Ike Ugbo, left unmarked close to the the goal, headed the ball home past goalkeeper Alexander Nubel. Troyes remained in 19th place.
Montpellier’s revival under coach Michel Der Zakarian continued as the southern club thrashed last-place Angers 5-0.
Back from suspension, playmaker Teji Savanier scored a brace to guide Montpellier eight points away from the relegation zone after Wahbi Khazri broke the deadlock in the opening minute.
Montpellier are now unbeaten in four matches.
Der Zakarian replaced Romain Pitau last month.
As Reims and Ajaccio looked set for a goalless draw, Jens Cajuste delighted home fans in stoppage time with a right-footed shot from outside the box that ended in the top right corner for a 1-0 win.
Reims have been flourishing under coach Will Still. They are now unbeaten in their last 18 league matches and sits eighth in the table.
Elsewhere, Franck Honorat scored the only goal in Brest’s 1-0 victory at Strasbourg, while Clermont posted a first win in seven matches by beating Toulouse 1-0 away.
Midfielder Rayan Cherki, a hot prospect in European soccer, created many chances for Lyon but could not break through in a 0-0 draw with Lorient as goalkeeper Vito Mannone produced five saves.