Ligue 1

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Further crowd trouble could see Lyon’s European ban made active

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Lyon has not enjoyed sportsmanship on and off the pitch this season.

You’ll remember an ugly incident between its players and Everton fans this season, but it’s been Lyon’s support which has had the Ligue 1 club under the microscope for some time.

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Lyon had a two-year ban suspended in April, and antics before Thursday’s Europa League match versus CSKA Moscow could see the French side’s suspension from European competition put into action. From the BBC:

Lyon have been charged with racist behaviour, crowd disturbances, throwing objects and setting off fireworks and blocking stairways.

Police say up to 150 ultras attacked officers outside Lyon’s stadium on Thursday.

Ligue 1: Alves secures late win for PSG; Depay does same for Lyon

AP Photo/Claude Paris
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PARIS (AP) — Memphis Depay scored in the last minute of a frantic match to give Lyon a 3-2 win at third-placed Marseille that keeps alive its chances of Champions League soccer next season.

In the fight for a Champions League playoff spot, fourth-placed Lyon closed the gap on Marseille to two points with eight games left. Monaco is seven points ahead of Marseille in second spot.

The match at Stade Velodrome ended with players pushing and shoving after the final whistle. Lyon defender Marcelo then mockingly brandished a Lyon jersey in front of Marseille’s players as they were walking off. It sparked a further melee which took more than a minute before security officials brought it under control. Several players from both sides tried to get at each other, rather than walking away when they had the chance.

It was the latest volatile incident in the French league.

On Thursday, several police officers were injured after clashes with Lyon fans before a Europa League game against CSKA Moscow.

This followed on from a mass pitch invasion by angry fans of struggling Lille on March 10, when about 200 fans charged onto the pitch to confront players after a home draw with Montpellier.

The acrimony continued Sunday.

As the players walked back through the tunnel to the dressing rooms, Marseille center back Adil Rami had to be held back as he launched himself at Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda also had to be pushed away moments later as he sought to back Rami up.

“When I see that it just makes me sad,” said Lyon defender Jeremy Morel, who formerly played for Marseille. “This isn’t even about football. I think we’ve really had enough of this, we don’t need it.”

Marseille winger Florian Thauvin saw it differently.

“Some Lyon players took the liberty of mocking us. It’s not professional on their part,” Thauvin said. “They lacked respect. (Marcelo) is a professional player, he should be leading by example. They shouldn’t behave like that.”

Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou’s looping header in the 84th minute appeared to have earned Marseille a point, after Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar put Lyon ahead 2-1 shortly after the break with a sweetly struck shot from winger Betrand Traore’s pass.

Mitroglou then almost went clean through from the halfway line in the 89th, only to be incorrectly called back for offside. It proved a key moment as Depay scored the winner one minute later.

Lopes took the free kick after the offside decision, striker Mariano Diaz headed the ball on just outside the edge of the penalty area and Depay read it well to nod it over the advancing Mandanda from just inside the area.

Rami’s own-goal late in the first half canceled out center back partner Jorge Rolando’s opener in the 31st.

“We defended really badly,” Mandanda said. “We just didn’t match them in the challenges.”

Dani Alves took Paris Saint-Germain a step closer to the French title, scoring his first league goal of the season with a late header as PSG won 2-1 at Nice.

The 34-year-old Brazil defender met midfielder Adrien Rabiot’s astute curling pass with a powerful header into the bottom right corner in the 82nd minute.

PSG is 17 points clear of defending champion Monaco and almost certain to win its fifth title in six seasons. PSG has seven games left and Monaco has eight.

Nice took the lead in the 17th minute. Mario Balotelli expertly chested down a high ball to the feet of strike partner Alassane Plea near the halfway line, and Plea’s pass sent Allan Saint-Maximin scampering though to finish coolly.

Four minutes later, Angel Di Maria took advantage of slack defending to equalize. It was his ninth goal in 25 league games and he needs one more to match his career-best tally.

The match started at 1 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) to capture a prime-time television audience in Asia. This follows on from the opening of a French league football office in Beijing last year.

“The Spanish and the English did this before. We train in the mornings, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Nice coach Lucien Favre, referring to the early kickoff. “I hope it was a good advert (for Ligue 1). It was a good game.”

Nice is in eighth place, three points above Saint-Etienne in ninth.

Mbappe adds two more as PSG beats Angers 2-1 (video)

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PARIS (AP) Kylian Mbappe scored twice in the first half as 10-man Paris Saint-Germain beat Angers 2-1 on Wednesday to take another step toward the French league title.

The 19-year-old forward has 13 league goals in 21 games since joining from Monaco for 180 million euros ($216 million), making him the world’s second-most expensive player behind his injured teammate Neymar. Mbappe is on course to beat his tally of 15 goals last season.

The win moves PSG 17 points clear of Monaco, which has played one game less.

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PSG played with 10 men from the 16th minute after veteran midfielder Thiago Motta was sent off for a dangerous challenge on defender Romain Thomas. Motta jumped up as he rode a tackle from Thomas, but then swiped his studs on the player’s chest as he came back down.

“He walked on me and it hurt. I’m not sure it was intentional, I wouldn’t go that far,” Thomas said. “The referee made his decision, that’s the way it goes.”

The home side was already 1-0 up following Mbappe’s 12th-minute goal, and went further ahead at Parc des Princes in the 26th when Mbappe crisply side-footed home left back Layvin Kurzawa’s cross.

Striker Karl Toko Ekambi pulled a goal back with 15 minutes left, starting and finishing the move for his 15th goal of the season. He won the ball near the center circle, fed midfielder Flavien Tait on the right, and took Tait’s return pass before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.

After Mbappe hit the crossbar in the 83rd, Toko Ekambi twice almost equalized but dragged his shot wide from an angle and then saw his last-minute shot well saved by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Ahead of last season, Drogba admits interest in Marseille role

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Didier Drogba loves everything about soccer, but his time on the field is finally coming to a close.

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The Phoenix Rising owner turned 40 on Sunday, and signaled the end of his playing career in November with an announcement than the 2018 USL season would be his last.

But a Telefoot interview shows the player-owner may take a role with American businessman Frank McCourt’s Marseille project (translated by ESPN):

“We’ll have to see what is offered. I’m always ready to help. … In any case, Marseille are showing good things this year. Rudi Garcia’s project is taking shape, they’re building a team with young players. It’s excellent to stay in the top three with a team like that. As a fan, I have a lot of faith in them.”

Drogba scored 32 times in his only season at Marseille.

He also netted nine times with three assists in 14 appearances last season as Phoenix finished fifth in the USL’s Western Conference before bowing out in penalty kicks against Swope Park Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

French league will investigate fan violence in Lille

Photo credit should read FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images
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PARIS (AP) The French football league says it will open disciplinary proceedings following the violent incidents that marred a league match between Lille and Montpellier.

Fans of struggling French club Lille charged onto the pitch to confront and threaten the players who drew with Montpellier 1-1 on Saturday.

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The league condemned the violence in a statement on Sunday and said its disciplinary commission will investigate the case during a meeting on Thursday.

At the final whistle, fans spilled onto the field at Stade Pierre-Mauory. Striker Nicolas Pepe was kicked in the leg by one fan and there were more flashpoints between fans and players as stewards struggled to control the situation. Defender Adama Soumaoro was also reportedly struck.

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A line of stewards formed on the side of the pitch to hold back about 200 fans, who were chanting insults at the players and at president Gerard Lopez, just days after Lopez met with fan groups on Monday.

When Lopez became president, he confidently spoke about his ambition to qualify for the Champions League within a few seasons. But Lille, which won the French league and cup double in 2011, is next-to-last with only nine games left.