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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 19, 2006

Marseille beat Valenciennes in first clash since scandal

PARIS, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille beat Valenciennes 1-0 on Sunday in the first meeting between the two clubs since they were engulfed in France's biggest match-fixing scandal 13 years ago.

Striker Mickael Pagis volleyed home a Mamadou Niang cross from close range on 61 minutes, enabling Marseille to bounce back after four defeats.

The former European champions climb to sixth and are now on 23 points from 14 games, 14 points behind leaders Olympique Lyon.

In the 1993 scandal, Valenciennes players were bribed to lose a league game just days before Marseille were due to play in the Champions League final against AC Milan. Marseille beat Valenciennes 1-0 and clinched their fifth title.

Valenciennes were relegated and then demoted to the third division the following year for financial reasons before losing their professional status and falling into the fourth division in 1997.

They started to climb back up the ladder when they were promoted to the third division in 2002, clinching the title and moving up to Ligue 2 before returning to the top flight this season.

The case turned into a nightmare for Marseille a year after they became the first French club to win the European Cup.

They were stripped of their fifth consecutive Ligue 1 title after the scandal erupted in 1994 and demoted to the second division for financial reasons. They returned to Ligue 1 two years later but have not won a trophy since.

Five-times champions Lyon stretched their lead to 12 points with a lucky 1-0 win at bottom club Sedan on Saturday that put them on 37 points from 14 matches.

Second-placed Lille's trip to Sochaux ended 0-0 while Racing Lens moved up to third after a 2-0 win over struggling Nantes, also on Saturday.

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