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Marseille beats Rennes to stay in hunt for French 4th place



PARIS (AP) Marseille showed it can cope without top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis by beating Rennes 2-0 at home in the French league on Saturday, a win that maintains its push for a top-four finish and place in the Europa League next season.

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Gomis has been Marseille’s best player this season, scoring 16 league goals, but picked up a knee injury last weekend and is expected to be out for up to six weeks.

In his absence, wingers Clinton N’Jie and Florian Thauvin grabbed second-half goals as Marseille moved level on points with fifth-place Saint-Etienne and one point behind fourth-place Lyon. They are both playing on Sunday.

France playmaker Dimitri Payet went close three times - hitting the crossbar with a rasping shot - before starting the move that led to N’Jie’s goal in the second half.

Five minutes later, Thauvin scored a powerful swerving shot into the top corner from 20 meters after running onto a neat back heel from midfielder Morgan Sanson.

Inconsistent Marseille has won its last three home games but lost its last three away.

Next up is a home game next Sunday against bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain - a must-win game in the eyes of the passionate Marseille fans at Stade Velodrome.

“PSG will be favorite but we’ll give everything,” Marseille left back Patrice Evra said. “We’re confident when we play at the Velodrome, but I’d like to us to do the same away from home.”

Later Saturday, Nice looked to keep the pressure on Monaco and PSG in a close title race. Nice welcomed back striker Mario Balotelli for the trip to play last-place Lorient.

Also, it was: Angers vs. Nancy; Caen vs. Lille, and Metz vs. Nantes.

Leader Monaco drew at Bastia 1-1 on Friday, meaning that defending champion PSG can close the gap to one point if it beats Toulouse at home on Sunday.

In Sunday’s other games, it is Lyon vs Dijon; Montpellier vs. Saint-Etienne, and Bordeaux vs. Guingamp.