Leinster eye Cup quarters
Three-time former champions Leinster need just one point from their final Pool 1 game at home to Ospreys to ensure themselves a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling 29-22 victory over Castres on Sunday. The Irish province sit atop Pool 1 with 17 points, four points ahead of Northampton, who ran out 29-17 victors over Ospreys in Swansea. It means Northampton’s only chance of qualifying for the knock-out phase is a bonus-point victory at home over Castres on Friday, with Leinster — who have a far superior points differential — losing at Ospreys. In Wales, Northampton ground out an at-times dour win over Ospreys, with Stephen Myler kicking four first-half penalties to one from Dan Biggar. Toulouse beat Saracens 21-11 in the late game to book their place as at least one of the two best runners-up. Saracens can still secure their last eight ticket too in the final Pool 3 action next week against Connacht, when Toulouse face Italian whipping boys Zebre.
L’OM rally to first Evian win
Olympique de Marseille are now unbeaten in five domestic games under Jose Anigo, after coming from behind to beat Evian Thonon Gaillard 2-1 in Annecy, France, on Sunday. On-loan winger Pape Amodou Sougou put the home side in front against his parent club, but Benoit Cheyrou equalized for l’OM and Andre-Pierre Gignac netted what turned out to be the winner before the interval. It was Marseille’s first-ever win away to Evian and the three points lifted them back up to fifth place in the Ligue 1 table. However, they remain eight points adrift of the Champions League qualification places. Elsewhere on Sunday, third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole missed the chance to move second as they slipped to a 2-1 home loss against Stade de Reims. Right-winger Odair Fortes scored with a fortuitous deflected shot in the 73rd minute and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak made it 2-0 three minutes later when he headed in at the back post. Lille caught a break in the 89th when center-half Anthony Weber headed into his own net. Lille’s defeat and AS Monaco’s 1-1 draw at Montpellier Herault on Friday night played into the hands of French leaders PSG, which now lead Monaco by five points and Lille by seven. Earlier, Nantes beat local rivals Lorient 1-0 at the Stade de la Beaujoire, with Ismael Bangoura firing home his first goal for the club since May 2012 to seal the points with just one minute remaining.
Benfica win honors Eusebio
SL Benfica won a league match against archrivals Porto for the first time in more than four years on Sunday, beating them 2-0 on an emotional afternoon marked by tributes to late forward Eusebio. Goals in each half from Rodrigo and Ezequiel Garay took Benfica top of the Primeira Liga with 36 points, two ahead of Sporting, with champions Porto a further point behind in third. Benfica’s players all wore Eusebio’s name rather than their own on the back of their shirts and synchronized placards produced a huge image in the stands of the player nicknamed the “Black Panther,” who died on Jan. 5 aged 71. There was also a minute’s silence before the game for the Mozambique-born player who was the top-scorer at the 1966 World Cup with nine goals that helped Portugal reach the semi-finals and inspired Benfica to 11 domestic titles.