Marseille, Rennes post wins to maintain Champions League chase

Marseille and Rennes kept up their chase for Champions League football on Monday with both coming through after hard-fought 2-1 wins over Montpellier and Nice respectively.

Marseille won at Monpellier to notch up a fourth successive victory that keeps them third in Ligue 1 with Rennes two-points behind in fourth after a success at home against Nice.

Second half goals from Nuno Tavares and Maxime Esteve's own goal gave Marseille a 2-0 cushion but they had to hold firm in a fiery finish which saw on-loan Arsenal left-back 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 fifth-placed Monaco and leaves them four points behind second-placed Lens who beat Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

"We suffered a little, but it's a good victory," said Marseille coach Igor Tudor. "At the start, we lacked a bit of speed or something. The break allowed us to acquire a bit of freshness."

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.

- Terrier injury worry -

Benjamin Bourigeaud's 89th-minute winner gave Rennes the three points at home but the Brittany side lost star striker Martin Terrier to injury.

Terrier had opened from close range after just five minutes but was stretchered off in agony after half an hour with a right knee injury.

Coach Bruno Genesio admitted the prognosis was "so far not very reassuring" for the 25-year-old.

Ross Barkley pulled a goal back after 20 minutes to set up a tense finale before Bourigeaud struck following good work from Flavien Tait to leave Nice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on the wrong foot.

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 struggling 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.

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