Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Lille, PSG maintain title momentum

AFP, PARIS

Brest defender Brahim Ferradj, right, vies with Lens midfielder Karim Ait Fana during their match at the Francis Le Ble stadium on Saturday in Brest, France.

PHOTO: AFP

Lille, who climbed to the top of the French first division last weekend by demolishing Lorient, maintained top spot on Saturday but only after an injury time goal downed bottom club Arles-Avignon.

With second-placed Paris Saint Germain keeping the wheels on their title push with a 2-1 win at Valenciennes, Lille were in danger of seeing their capital rivals depose them at the summit.

But after minnows Arles had manfully held their own Tulio De Melo popped up with a header in the 93rd minute to earn Lille their eighth win of the campaign.

Lille coach Rudi Garcia’s pre-match prediction that the game should carry a “banana-skin” health warning proved more accurate than he would have dared imagine.

After the match he said: “This is an important win. We had a difficult game and had to wait. I’d warned this all week and finally what they say is true — there are no easy matches in this division.”

PSG had Nene to thank for their win at Valenciennes, the Brazilian striker putting the visitors into the lead shortly after the break.

Vincent Aboubakar levelled for Valenciennes in the 82nd minute with Nene providing the perfect response with his decisive second six minutes from time.

That was his 11th goal of the season, and it was one to savor, a peach of a lob from the right of the box with the ball sailing past Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau.

It was PSG’s tenth game without defeat and it further advertised their claims as title contenders.

Elsewhere Lorient registered a 3-0 home win over Lens while Nancy beat Sochaux 1-0.

The matches between Caen and Nice and Brest against Montpellier ended in goalless draws.

Buoyed by victory over Chelsea in their final Champions League group game in mid-week, Marseille were out to revitalize their domestic title defense at Auxerre in Saturday’s late kick-off.

A 1-0 defeat at Nice saw Marseille slip from first to fourth in the French top flight last weekend.

They started brightly, with Loic Remy putting them in to an eighth minute lead with a header.

Marseille were then struck a double blow with Stephane Mbia sent off for felling Auxerre striker Julien Quercia in the box, with Valter Birsa converting the resulting penalty to send the two sides into the dressing room at the break all square.

Auxerre were unable to capitalize on their numerical superiority in the second half, although substitute Frederic Sanmaritano went close with his angled shot from the right in the dying minutes.

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