Ligue 1: Marseille and Montpellier win to reach top four

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PSG may be well in front of the Ligue 1 table, but behind them is a fierce battle.

Marseille scored just before the break and held on for a 1-0 win over Nice, holding Mario Balotelli scoreless in his first return to club action in a month. It was a gritty win, with Nice holding 58% possession and Marseille owning just a single shot on target, which translated to a 42nd minute goal by Morgan Sanson.

Balotelli had a big chance to open the scoring in the 15th minute but saw his effort from a tight angle saved by Walter Benitez. Marseille took the lead three minutes before the break as Sanson received a cutback from Bouna Sarr and after a nice first touch, finished low for the lead. Neither team had much after the break, and the match finished with just four total shots on target.

Montpellier won as well, a 2-0 result over Bordeaux at home. They scored early in both halves, while holding Bordeaux to just three shots on target through the match. Gaetan Laborde grabbed the opener in the 17th minute, rising higher than Bordeaux goalkeeper Benoit Costil on a popped up ball and heading into the open net.

Costil made a fantastic save on a shot from Laborde in the 39th minute, pushing the effort from long range off the post. It wouldn’t matter thought, as Montpellier would double its lead in the 53rd minute on a penalty from Andy Delort after Pablo handled a cross near the end line.

The two victories pushed the clubs up to third and fourth, as Montpellier sits three points back of second-placed LOSC with 19, while Marseille is right there with 19 points as well, but with a goal differential just one behind.

Finally, Stade Rennais and St. Etienne drew 1-1 on a pair of first-half goals. Wahib Kazri deopsited a penalty for Etienne just four points in, while Rennais found the back of the net just after the half-hour mark through Senegalese youngster Ismaila Sarr who poked home on a corner.