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May 11, 2013

Marseille secures top-three finish

Marseille secured a top-three finish and consolidated second place in the French league by defeating Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday, delaying Paris Saint-Germain's title celebrations by at least one day.

PSG would have clinched the league title had Marseille lost but can still secure the championship with a win over third-place Lyon on Sunday.

Andre Ayew scored both goals for Marseille, scoring on the stroke of halftime with a header before doubling the lead from close range in the 62nd.

Toulouse substitute Eden Ben Basat netted a consolation goal from a tight angle in the 82nd.

Marseille earned its fourth straight victory to be seven points clear of Lyon.

"We knew that if we got three points, we would qualify for the Champions League," Mathieu Valbuena said. "For a change, maybe we will support Paris (against Lyon)."

A PSG victory at Stade Gerland would guarantee Marseille a runner-up finish.

The top two French teams qualify directly for the group stage of the Champions League whereas the third-place team enters in the preliminary round of the lucrative European competition.

Also Saturday, it was: Brest 0, Sochaux 2; Ajaccio 0, Troyes 1; Bastia 3, Montpellier 1; Bordeaux 3, Nancy 2; and Valenciennes 4, Rennes 1.

Lille stayed in the race for a European spot by routing Reims 3-0 on Friday to provisionally climb to fourth place, three points behind Lyon.

Monaco, whose main shareholder is Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, was promoted after edging Nimes 1-0 in the second division.

On Sunday, Nice visits Evian and Saint-Etienne faces Lorient.

At Stade Velodrome, Ayew jumped from the penalty spot to head a cross from Valbuena into the bottom corner in the 45th minute.

The Ghana forward then initiated a good team move when he released Andre-Pierre Gignac down the left wing. Gignac cut the ball back toward Valbuena, who arrived a split second too late to slide the ball home, but Morgan Amalfitano loomed at the far post to feed Ayew for a tap-in.

Near the end, Ben Basat beat the offside trap in the closing minutes to slip the ball through Marseille goalie Steve Mandanda's legs.

Sochaux striker Sloan Privat tucked home a low cross from Jerome Roussillon in the 48th and nodded in a corner in the 81st to dent 10-man Brest's hopes of escaping relegation.

Defender Florian Jarjat helped Troyes make up ground in the fight for safety by heading in a corner in the 17th against Ajaccio. Troyes pulled within a point of Nancy, which sits in 17th place.

Bastia secured safety with two goals from Anthony Modeste against Montpellier.

In Bordeaux, Cheick Diabate scored the winner over Nancy in the 87th to help the hosts provisionally climb to seventh place.

Rennes was down to nine men in the second half and Valenciennes quickly took advantage of its numerical superiority as defender Lindsay Rose headed home a corner from Gael Danic in the 68th to break the 1-1 deadlock. Two more late goals made it 4-1.

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