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May 4, 2013

Marseille delays PSG's title party

PARIS -- Marseille beat Bastia 2-1 in the French league on Saturday to postpone Paris Saint-Germain's title celebrations for at least another week.

With three rounds left and a six-point lead on Marseille, PSG cannot clinch the title this weekend but it has a vastly superior goal difference to Marseille. PSG hosts Valenciennes on Sunday.

Marseille has almost mathematically secured second spot. It is seven points ahead of third-placed Lyon which travels to Nancy on Sunday.

"We tried to score and to play, and we were rewarded," Marseille coach Elie Baup said. "We played quite a complete match today.

"We're continuing to get nearer (to second place). We're going to fight, there are still three matches and nine points at stake. It's really tight, a lot of things can happen, but it's better now that we've picked up the points today."

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored in each half for Marseille at Stade Velodrome to help keep the pressure on PSG.

Florian Thauvin leveled for Bastia 53 seconds after the interval as Marseille conceded its first goal in eight matches.

Marseille dominated and should have secured the points earlier, with both Lucas Mendes and Gignac hitting the crossbar.

Bastia had a second-half goal ruled out for offside from former Marseille striker Toifilou Maoulida.

Marseille took the lead in the 12th minute following a brilliant through ball from Mathieu Valbuena, which Gignac controlled before feinting round defender Fethi Harek and curling a shot into the top left corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Gignac had been a major doubt for the match after hurting his ankle in the 1-0 win at Lorient last weekend.

The home side went close again four minutes later but Mendes headed Valbuena's corner onto the crossbar.

Bastia goalkeeper Mickael Landreau did well to keep his side in the game, denying Gignac twice.

Marseille should still have gone in at halftime with a comfortable cushion but Gignac volleyed Valbuena's cross onto the crossbar seconds before the end of the first half.

Bastia leveled immediately after the restart when Thauvin stormed forwards and fired from distance into the bottom right corner.

Marseille almost swiftly restored its lead but Landreau pulled off a stunning save to fingertip Morgan Amalfitano's effort over the bar.

Shortly afterwards, Maoulida's header was ruled out for offside.

Marseille again went close as Modou Sougou collected Valbuena's pass, rounded Landreau and fired towards goal from a tight angle only to be denied by Julian Palmieri's last-ditch clearance.

Landreau was again decisive to parry Jordan Ayew's fierce shot before Gignac's crucial 81st-minute strike.

Valbuena was again the provider to allow his teammate to fire a diagonal shot across goal into the bottom left corner. It was Gignac's 13th league goal of the season.

Lille was three points behind Marseille, in fifth, after losing 4-2 at Toulouse.

Toulouse stormed into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Wissam Ben Yedder and Etienne Didot.

However, Marko Basa headed in Dimitri Payet's free kick to get Lille back into the game in the 38th minute and Salomon Kalou fired in the equalizer four minutes after the interval.

Daniel Braaten scored what was to prove the winner, firing in between the legs of Lille goalkeeper Steeve Elana following Ben Yedder's through ball.

Eden Ben Basat sealed the result at the death.

At the other end of the table, Troyes beat fellow struggler Evian 1-0 to keep alive its slim hopes of avoiding relegation.

Troyes moved off the bottom of the table leapfrogging Brest, which lost 2-1 at Montpellier.

Brest slipped two points behind Troyes and six points off safety.

Evian also moved into the relegation zone after Sloan Privat scored to give Sochaux a 1-0 win against Lorient. Sochaux is three points above the bottom three.

Elsewhere, Reims drew 1-1 at home to Ajaccio, to leave both teams five points above the relegation zone.

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