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By ESPN Staff

Ligue 1: Bordeaux close in on Champions League

PARIS, April 5 (Reuters) - A powerful close range volley by Alou Diarra helped Girondins Bordeaux take a major step towards direct qualification for the Champions League with a 2-0 win at Stade Rennes on Saturday.

The 26-year-old midfielder was left unmarked when he struck in the 18th minute after a corner by Brazilian Geraldo Wendel, whose compatriot Fernando sealed Bordeaux's win when he headed home another Wendel corner five minutes from time.

Rennes, who were on a run of six games without defeat, stepped up a gear in the second half but were unable to break down the visitors' solid defence.

The win cements second place for Bordeaux who have 61 points with six matches left giving them a nine-point lead over third-placed Nancy, who face a tricky home game on Sunday against a Paris St Germain side fighting against relegation.

Rennes have slipped one place to sixth on goal difference behind Nice, who drew 0-0 at home to Lille.

The relegation battle is hotting up with four clubs --Racing Lens, PSG, Toulouse and Strasbourg -- level on 35 points and separated only by goal difference ahead of bottom club Metz, who have just 18 points and are on the brink of going down.

Lens, held 1-1 at home by Metz, are in 16th place in the standings followed by PSG and then Toulouse, who only managed a goalless draw at home to Lorient, with Strasbourg 19th after a 2-0 defeat by Monaco on their La Meinau pitch.

Leaders Olympique Lyon, who have 67 points from 31 games, travel to fourth-placed Olympique Marseille on Sunday in the showcase match of the 32nd round.

The six times French champions are aiming to restore a nine-point lead at the top with a victory while Marseille, eyeing a place in the Champions League qualifying round, must win to move level on 52 points with Nancy.