Marseille wins to keep slim title hopes alive
PARIS (AP) -France winger Mathieu Valbuena scored with a well-struck shot as Marseille won 1-0 at Lorient Saturday to keep its slim title hopes alive and strengthen its grip on second place.
Lorient was the better side early on and Marseille scored against the run of play in the 25th minute when Valbuena planted a low shot into the corner from just outside the penalty area.
The win moves Marseille six points behind leader Paris Saint-Germain, which hosts Valenciennes on Sunday. A win would restore PSG's nine-point lead with both teams then having four matches remaining.
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said Saturday that he is undecided whether he will stay for next season. The Italian wants to wait until the end of the current campaign before deciding.
Marseille, which has become a specialist at winning matches 1-0 this season, recorded its seventh straight game without conceding a goal.
The visitors scored moments after Lorient had almost taken the lead when forward Jeremie Aliadiere played in Maxime Baca with a superb flick and his shot was saved by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. The ball looped up over Mandanda and was hacked off the line by center back Lucas Mendes.
Marseille went straight up the other end and striker Andre-Pierre Gignac forced `keeper Fabien Audard into a great save with a stinging shot that was heading for the bottom corner.
Gignac was involved in the goal, slipping a clever pass to Andre Ayew, whose shot was well saved by Audard. The loose ball fell to Valbuena lurking just outside the penalty area and his strike flew into the net.
"It found the bottom corner,'' Valbuena said. "You have to be accurate as there are always a lot of players around.''
Aliadiere, Lorient's top scorer with 18 goals in all competitions, went close to equalizing when he stabbed a shot just wide after meeting Kevin Monnet-Paquet's cross from the right.
Mandanda made a brilliant leaping save to his right to keep out Maxime Barthelme's swerving shot in the 72nd, and Barthelme hit the crossbar a minute later as Lorient pushed hard.
Gignac was taken off on a stretcher near the end after appearing to hurt his ankle in a tackle.
In Saturday's later matches, it is: Ajaccio vs. Montpellier; Bastia vs. Toulouse; Bordeaux vs. Reims; Brest vs. Rennes, and Valenciennes vs. Nancy.
Lyon hosts Saint-Etienne in their fierce local derby and Nice faces last-place Troyes in Sunday's other games.