MONTPELLIER - Olympique Marseille made an important step towards their first league title in 17 years when they won 2-1 at Lille on Sunday. The Provence side, last crowned French champions in 1992, have 67 points with five matches left and closest rivals Girondins Bordeaux are on 62 with a game in hand at Stade Rennes on Wednesday. Marseille started confidently but on 41 minutes referee Laurent Duhamel awarded Lille a penalty for a Charles Kabore handball in the area. Steve Mandanda, however, saved Michel Bastos's attempt from the spot. Lille did not give up and went ahead four minutes into the second half when Belgium striker Eden Hazard found the back of the net with a shot from close range after being set up by Robert Vittek. The visitors turned the match round in the space of four minutes. Midfielder Benoit Cheyrou latched onto a Kabore cross from the right in the 54th minute and Senegal striker Mamadou Niang netted with an angled shot from just inside the box on 57 minutes. "Tonight, we showed great character," Mandanda told French TV channel Canal Plus. "I don't think we would have won such a game last season," added midfielder Mathieu Valbuena. Seven-times champions Olympique Lyon are third on 61 points following a 0-0 home draw against Paris St Germain on Friday. Toulouse's hopes of securing a Champions League spot suffered a blow when they were held 1-1 at home by mid-table Lorient, also on Sunday. Defender Mauro Cetto levelled for the hosts with one minute remaining, cancelling out Andre Ayew's opener for Lorient in the 85th minute to leave Toulouse fifth in the standings. They trail Lyon, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot, by four points with five matches left. St Etienne stayed third from bottom following a 3-1 defeat at Nice.
26 April 2009
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