Marseille post fourth successive win with victory at Montpellier

Marseille kept up their chase for Champions League football with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Montpellier on Monday, a fourth successive win that keeps them third in Ligue 1.

Second half goals from Nuno Tavares and Maxime Esteve's own goal gave them a 2-0 cushion but they had to hold firm in a fiery finish which saw Tavares sent off four minutes from time before Teji Savanier pulled one back from the penalty spot.

The win, which follows a 6-1 thrashing of Toulouse last week, takes Marseille three points clear of fourth-placed Monaco and leaves them four points behind second-placed Lens who beat Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Goalless at half-time, the match sprang into life early in the second half when Tavares claimed his fifth goal of the season, following up quickly to bury the chance after Jonas Omlin had pushed away Jordan Veretout's header.

Just after the hour they were two up, central defender Esteve under pressure at the back post at a corner putting through his own goal.

The exit of Tavares and Savanier's penalty made for a torrid ending but Marseille clung on to take the points.

Lille missed the opportunity to go sixth when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Reims.

Jonathan David put the home side ahead just after the half hour when he was first to pounce on a loose ball after Yehvann Diouf had parried away a shot by Jonathan Bamba.

Reims, though, snatched a point 11 minutes from time when Thibault De Smet teed up Jens-Lys Cajuste for the leveller.

"We missed a great opportunity to win the match. We are disappointed and frustrated," said Lille coach Paulo Fonseca.

The Lille players were given a rough ride by the home crowd who whistled their disapproval of the performance, sparking an angry response Fonseca.

"I am very disappointed with our supporters as well," he said. "If the fans are not happy with the way the team is playing, they can go see the (club) president and I can leave."

Troyes picked up an important three points after bottom side Strasbourg had come back from 2-0 down to be level at 2-2. The visitors snatched the win when Xavier Chavalerin hammered in a volley 12 minutes from the end.

Rennes host Nice later on Monday.

bsp/ea