Bordeaux’s hopes of ending their 10-year wait for the French league title were boosted Sunday when defending champions Lyon beat Marseille 3-1 at their imposing Velodrome stadium.
Karim Benzema proved a two-goal hero for Claude Puel’s visitors, beating Steve Mandanda from the spot with a first half penalty before coolly slotting past the Marseille keeper after a defence-splitting pass on 42 minutes.
Marseille dominated for periods in the first half with Mahamadou Niang hitting the post with a bullet strike in the 16th minute.
Just how costly his miss was became apparent when Benzema scored from the penalty spot in the 29th minute after he was brought down by Brazilian Brandao.
Benzema’s second seemed to take the wind out of Marseille’s sails.
The hosts struggled to get back into the match in a somewhat dull second half that was livened up when Benzema pounced on a defensive error to test Mandanda again, only this time the keeper won their duel.
Marseille reduced the arrears in the 80th minute through Sylvain Wiltord but despite a late rally by the hosts their brief revival came too late.
In the fourth minute of injury time a superb long-range free-kick from Brazilian Juninho stunned the hosts.
Nevertheless with two games remaining it is still all to play for in a league which, this season, has been incredibly hard to predict.
Bordeaux face Monaco next week at home then Caen away on the final match day while Marseille travel to Nancy next week before hosting Rennes on May 30.
Lyon are already out of the title race but are still battling to secure a Champions League spot for next season.
This latest victory hoists them up to third at the expense of Paris St Germain – who were stunned 2-1 by Auxerre on Saturday – on 67 points, four behind Marseille and seven behind Bordeaux.
Bordeaux, coached by former France international Laurent Blanc, took a major stride towards their first league trophy since 1999 with a crucial 3-2 win over plucky Le Mans on Saturday.
It was the south-west coast side’s ninth win on the trot.
On-loan AC Milan midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was inspirational, helping set up Marouane Chamakh’s equaliser in the 38th minute before giving the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time then setting up Marc Planus for the match winner on 76 minutes.
Le Mans, to their credit, came in search of the points and had taken the lead through Anthony Le Tallec in the 24th minute before he scored his second of the game eight minutes after the restart.
Gourcuff admitted that having to turn around the match had been a strength-sapping affair.
“Having to come back from being led really forces you to dig in physically, it’s very tiring mentally,” said the midfielder.
“Even when they came back to level at 2-2, we kept our nerve. With two matches to go, it’s really coming down to who is mentally strongest.
“We have it in us to turn around situations like that, which is pretty surprising but I hope it helps us win something big.”
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