Tue, May 17, 2011 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Lille on the brink of claiming title

AFP, PARIS

Lorient’s Lamine Kone, second right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Olympique de Marseille in their Ligue 1 match in Lorient, France, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Lille could all but secure the Ligue 1 title tomorrow after nearest rivals Olympique de Marseille, the defending champions, were held to a 2-2 draw at Lorient on Sunday.

Lille beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in Saturday’s French Cup final to end a 56-year silverware drought and if they win at home to Sochaux tomorrow they will go six points clear of Marseille with only six points to play for.

Rudi Garcia’s side are four points from a league and cup double with three games to play and a goal difference of plus 30 that is seven goals superior to Marseille.

Loic Remy put Marseille ahead with a classy solo goal in the 14th minute at the Stade du Moustoir, twisting Lorient centerback Bruno Ecuele Manga inside-out, before tucking the ball past Lionel Cappone.

Lamine Kone equalized with a back-post header at the start of the second period and Marseille’s title hopes looked dead in the 80th minute when Kevin Gameiro darted in to touch home Yann Jouffre’s right-wing center.

Andre-Pierre Gignac leveled with two minutes remaining, before Benoit Cheyrou spurned the chance to give Marseille all three points when his header from point-blank range was caught on the line by Cappone.

Earlier on Sunday, Lens were relegated after a 1-1 draw at Monaco.

Monaco took a 14th-minute lead through Cameroon striker Benjamin Moukandjo, who dispatched a beautifully measured left-wing center from Chris Malonga with a deft half-volley.

Teenage defender Raphael Varane, 18, equalized with a header in stoppage-time, but although it was not enough to keep Lens out of Ligue 2, it did suck the home side into the relegation zone.

Lens have endured a tumultuous season, with experienced Romanian coach Laszlo Boloni unable to stop the early-season rot after replacing Jean-Guy Wallemme in January.

Lens’ fate was sealed thanks to victories for Stade Malherbe Caen and Nancy, the former winning 2-0 at home to Montpellier, the latter crushing fellow strugglers Nice 3-0.

The congestion at the bottom of the table means that just eight points separate seventh-placed Lorient and third-bottom Monaco.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Stade Rennais won 2-1 at Saint-Etienne, for whom Bakary Sako scored direct from a corner kick, to end a dismal nine-game winless run.

Arles-Avignon picked up only their second win of the season by prevailing 1-0 at home to Toulouse, who are now just three points above the drop zone.

An 87th-minute equalizer by South Korean striker Jung Jo-gook, meanwhile, earned Auxerre a 1-1 draw at Valenciennes.

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