Posted: Sunday May 5, 2013 1:29 PM

Lyon beats Nancy to strengthen 3rd spot; Nice wins

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PARIS (AP) -Lyon strengthened its grip on third place in the French league with a convincing 3-0 win at Nancy on Sunday to stay three points ahead of Nice in the race for a Champions League place.

Bafetimbi Gomis came off the bench to score twice for Lyon, after Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich had also got a brace for Nice which earlier won 3-0 at Rennes to move one point ahead of Saint-Etienne and into fourth.

With three rounds remaining, the race for Europe is set to intensify, with Nice hosting Lyon in two weeks' time.

"We're still in it, that's good. When you're in a good position, you have to keep going,'' Nice coach Claude Puel said. "There are still nine points up for grabs, which is very few and a lot at the same time. For now we'll make the most of it and we'll recover for the next match, which will be difficult as it's against a team (Evian) that is fighting to stay up.''

Paris Saint-Germain could effectively secure the league title later Sunday with a home win against Valenciennes. Victory would keep PSG nine points clear of second-place Marseille, and with a vastly superior goal difference it would require a huge collapse to prevent PSG clinching its first title since 1994.

Nancy had won five out of the past eight matches to climb out of the relegation zone, but crumbled after the interval. Nancy is in 17th place, just one point and one place above Evian.

Gomis replaced Lisandro Lopez up front at halftime, and the France forward put Lyon ahead soon after when he burst into the penalty area and planted a shot into the bottom corner.

Yoann Gourcuff, who has struggled for any consistency since joining Lyon from Bordeaux two seasons ago, continued his surprise return to form with his second goal in consecutive games after scoring against bitter rival Saint-Etienne last weekend.

Gourcuff, once touted as the successor to Zinedine Zidane as France's playmaker, struck with a confident finish in the 80th minute after being set up by midfielder Gueida Fofana.

Gomis took his league tally to 16 for the season when he pounced in the 89th, collecting a pass from Gourcuff into his stride, turning past center half Sebastien Puygrenier and poking the ball in with his right foot.

Earlier, Cvitanich took his league tally this season to 17 - making him the third-highest scorer in Ligue 1 - with a close-range finish in the 52nd minute and a penalty in the 71st following a handball from Rennes midfielder Alou Diarra. Midfielder Eric Bautheac added the third in the 85th when he turned in Alexy Bosetti's cross.

"We're very happy to get the win. It was a bit of a strange game for my players. They were a bit tense, a bit nervous,'' Puel said. "I think we were a lot better in the second half, after we opened the scoring.''

Left back Chris Mavinga was sent off for pushing Cvitanich in the back and Nice center half Nemanja Pejcinovic was also red-carded late on for bringing down winger Jonathan Pitroipa.
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