Marseille took a significant step towards their first French league title for 17 years when they came from a goal down to win 2-1 in a tense match at Lille on Sunday.
It was only Lille’s second home defeat of the season and extends Marseille’s lead at the Ligue 1 summit to five points with five games to play.
Second-placed Bordeaux – 4-0 winners over second-division Vannes in Saturday’s League Cup final – have a game in hand at Rennes on Wednesday.
Marseille’s France international goalkeeper Steve Mandana saved a Michel Bastos penalty in the first half, but minutes after half-time 18-year-old Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard capped a sweeping move with a nerveless finish to put the hosts ahead.
Their lead, though, was short-lived, as Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou drilled home a left-footed half-volley in the 54th minute before Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang struck what proved to be the winner three minutes later.
Earlier on Sunday, a disastrous error by goalkeeper Lionel Cappone allowed Champions League-chasing Toulouse to salvage a 1-1 draw from their meeting with mid-table Lorient.
Toulouse were dumped out of the French Cup after losing 2-1 to second-tier outfit Guingamp in their mid-week semi-final and their bad luck appeared to be continuing when Andre Ayew slammed Lorient ahead in the 85th minute.
But Cappone let the ball squirm out of his hands after sliding out to the left-hand edge of his penalty area in the 89th minute, enabling Etienne Didot to square for Mauro Cetto to convert a simple equaliser for the home side.
Toulouse remain fifth, one place above Lille and four points off the last Champions League qualifying berth.
At the other end of the table, Vaclav Sverkos’s injury-time penalty enabled Sochaux to claim a 1-1 draw at home to Valenciennes that moves them two places above the drop zone.
Fallen giants St Etienne remain in the bottom three after losing 3-1 at Nice, while there was heartbreak for second-bottom Caen, who conceded two late goals by Polish striker Ireneusz Jelen to lose 2-1 at Auxerre.
Elsewhere, Nancy beat Nantes 2-0 and Monaco won 1-0 at Le Mans, while rock-bottom Le Havre are 12 points from safety after going down 1-0 against Grenoble.
On Friday night, Lyon’s bid for an eighth successive Ligue 1 title was further compromised when they were held to a goalless draw at home to Paris St-Germain.
The champions have now picked up just nine points from a possible 24 and are in danger of missing out on third place and a lucrative place in next season’s Champions League.
“The match statistics don’t look too good at the moment,” said Lyon coach Claude Puel, whose side stay third, a point above PSG.
“After the match we felt frustrated. We might win the fair play award at the end of the season but that doesn’t really suit me all that much.”
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