France: Montpellier edges Lille to keep 3-point lead
PARIS (AP) -- Montpellier scored in injury time to beat defending champion Lille 1-0 Sunday and retain its three-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain, moving within one game of its first French league title.
PSG kept its slim title hopes alive by routing Rennes 3-0 thanks to a hat trick from Brazilian midfielder Nene.
Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud led a counterattack in the fourth minute of stoppage time to pull the ball back for Karim Ait Fana who slotted it into an empty net.
"When I scored, I really felt the stadium was erupting and exploding with joy,'' Ait Fana said. "We made a big step toward the title tonight. But it's not over. Let's not forget there's still a match against Auxerre.''
Both Montpellier and PSG secured automatic qualification for the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Lille was knocked out of the title race and will finish in third place, needing to win a playoff to participate in the lucrative European competition.
"We have no regrets. We tried everything to win tonight,'' Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. "We were in the title race until the 37th round. So it can only be a good season for us.''
Montpellier wasted a good chance in the 23rd when Giroud fed midfielder Jamel Saihi, who fired over the bar from eight yards with the goal at his mercy. Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau saved his team in the 53rd by tipping over the bar a powerful header from Giroud in the 53rd.
In Paris, Nene opened the scoring in the 47th after winger Jeremy Menez outpaced the Rennes defense to cut the ball back for the midfielder, who shot past goalkeeper Benoit Costil.
Nene doubled the lead by sending an indirect free kick into the top corner in the 58th, and then raised his league tally to 21 goals this season by converting a penalty in the 60th after Rennes defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik had fouled Menez.
"Tonight we reached an important goal because qualifying for the Champions League was a very important goal for this club,'' PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
"It will be more difficult to win the title,'' Ancelotti added. "But we play to try to win the title. And today, we still have a small chance to win it.''
PSG plays Lorient in the last round while Montpellier visits Auxerre. The only scenario in which PSG can win the title is a victory over Lorient combined with a loss from Montpellier.
Last-place Auxerre will be relegated after losing 3-0 to Marseille at Stade Velodrome.
Rod Fanni, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andre-Pierre Gignac all scored for Marseille. However, Marseille forward Loic Remy suffered a thigh injury in the 50th and is doubtful for France's provisional squad for the European Championship.
Ajaccio drew 1-1 with Lyon after Brazilian forward Eduardo equalized with a spot kick in the 59th following a foul from Lyon centerback Cris on Fousseni Diawara.
Bafetimbi Gomis gave Lyon the lead in the 54th by heading into the bottom corner a cross from Jeremy Pied.
Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff was sent off in the 50th for kicking an opponent off the ball, while the hosts were also down to 10 men when Anthony Lippini picked up a second yellow card in the 91st. Ajaccio fell into the relegation zone despite earning a point.
Striker Benjamin Moukandjo scored twice to help Nancy beat Saint-Etienne 3-2. Moukandjo pounced on a poor backpass from defender Sylvain Marchal to slot into an empty net in the sixth before doubling the lead with a low strike in the 21st.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cut Nancy's lead in the 39th by notching his 15th goal this season, but Nancy made it 3-1 in the 43rd when goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier palmed a tame shot from Yohan Mollo into his own net.
Saint-Etienne midfielder Laurent Battles made it a nervy finish for Nancy by firing home a low strike in the 70th.
Yoan Gouffran fired Bordeaux into fifth place by converting a penalty in stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win over Lorient.
The fifth-place team gets a European League berth as Lyon has already secured fourth place and a European spot by winning the French Cup.
Relegation-threatened Dijon was held to a 1-1 draw by Toulouse to remain three points from safety.
Defender Abdoulaye Meite nodded in a cross from Eric Bautheac in the 27th, but Toulouse winger Amadou Soukouna equalized with a curling shot from the edge of the box in the 44th.
Brest moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Valenciennes as Bruno Grougi curled a free kick into the bottom corner in the 39th.
In Sunday's other games, Nice drew 1-1 with Evian and Sochaux won 3-1 at Caen.
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