Strootman strike strengthens Marseille’s position in Ligue 1

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Paris Saint-Germain is again running away with the Ligue 1 title, but behind them a battle is raging for Champions League places. Marseille tightened its grip on second place with a critical 1-0 road victory at third-placed Stade Rennes behind substitute Kevin Strootman’s 83rd minute goal.

The game was a cagey one for much of the first hour, with each goalkeeper required to make just one stop to that point. Neither side produced much in front of net at all, with neither team eclipsing 1 expected goal.

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With so few chances to go around, Rennes rued a big Steve Mandanda save on Benjamin Beuregard on 60 minutes, with the French international going full stretch to keep out the effort from outside the box. Marseille got an opportunity from Alvaro Gonzalez, but striker Dario Benedetto was quiet for much of the match.

Having entered the fray just a minute earlier, Strootman came up with the decisive moment seven minutes from full-time, with Dimitri Payet‘s free-kick well saved by Edouard Mendy, but the rebound fell to Strootman at the near post and the Dutchman poked the ball into the back of the net with a high boot.

The win is critical for Marseille, extending the club’s unbeaten streak to nine games and moving Marseille to 41 points, a full eight points ahead of Stade Rennes with 33. Lille sits in fourth on 31 points, while Nantes is surprisingly in the mix sitting fifth with 29 points.