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Montpellier hammers Marseille to go 2nd in Ligue 1

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At halftime it was anyone’s game, with the first goal yet to be scored. By the 70 minute mark, the match was over.

A mid-second half flurry of goals sent Montpellier up to second in the Ligue 1 table as they topped Marseille 3-0 at Stade de la Mosson. Gaetan Laborde continued his spectacular form with an eight-minute brace across the hour mark before former Bordeaux midfielder Paul-Bastien Lasne finished things off with 20 minutes to go.

The first came on an absolutely beautiful display of one-touch passing in the attacking third as Montpellier pinged the ball around between Ruben Aguilar and Florent Mollet before the former lofted it in to Laborde who headed home for the opener.

Laborde then did all the work himself for the second, collecting his own blocked cross by picking the pocket of Bouna Sarr before unleashing a left-footed curler that left Steve Mandanda with no chance. The goal is the sixth in the last seven matches for Laborde who failed to score in his first five league matches of the season before turning on the jets.

The third came from Lasne who caught the defense off guard by poking the ball quickly after receiving a threaded feed from Mollet. It appeared that Mandanda was caught napping by Lasne’s quick decision and dove far too late to cover his near post.

Overall, Montpellier finished with six shots on target to Marseille’s two, and they held Marseille to just two completed passes inside the penalty area. The victory sent Montpellier into second in the Ligue 1 table, even with LOSC on 25 points but ahead on goal differential gained in this win. They still sit eleven points back of PSG at the top.

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.

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Monaco concedes late, leaves door open for PSG

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AS Monaco suffered its first draw of the season, falling from a winning position and leaving the door open for PSG to widen its lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.

Falcao gave Monaco a 1-0 lead over Montpellier at home past the half-hour mark, pausing his run for just a moment to allow Ruben Aguilar to flow towards the ball, giving the Colombian time to receive the feed from Rony Lopes and poking home just enough to light up the Goal Line Technology.

However, the visitors proved worthy opponents, peppering the goal with 15 shots to Monaco’s eight, although only three of those on target. On the other end, the hosts did not manage another shot on target.

With Montpellier pushing for an equalizer, they pulled it off in stoppage time. Hilton looped a ball over the top of the Monaco back line, and the defenders switched off, allowing Souleymane Camara to sneak free and deposit Kévin Berigaud’s header into the back of the net to break Monaco’s hearts two minutes past regulation.

The sole point sees Monaco simply draw level with Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table, with PSG still to host Bordeaux. Even those visitors to Parc des Princes could pull within one point with an upset victory.

Montpellier president Nicollin dies, helped club win title

AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File
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PARIS (AP) Montpellier president Louis Nicollin, who helped to produce one of the biggest upsets in French football when his unfashionable club won the league in 2012, has died. He was 74.

Montpellier said in a statement that Nicollin, who had been its president since 1974, died on Thursday, his birthday.

Never shy of controversy, Nicollin made his fortune in waste collection and began funding the southern club after taking control. His reward after 38 years was for Montpellier to become French champions for the first time at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain.

Montpellier’s title-winning squad featured nine homegrown players, in contrast to PSG’s relentless pursuit of stars at the expense of its own youth academy. Striker Olivier Giroud, who scored 21 league goals, left for Arsenal.

A close friend of Nicollin, former France great Michel Platini mourned the death of someone “exceptional.”

“To put it simply, I loved him like a brother. A part of me has just gone,” Platini said in a statement. “Louis was my closest friend in football over the past 30 years.”

Under Nicollin, Montpellier won the second division title in 1987 and the French Cup in 1990 with a team featuring the likes of Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc and Julio Cesar.

However, Nicollin also made the headlines for the wrong reasons, with his profanity-laced tirades landing him in trouble more than once.

In 2009, he was banned for two months for using an anti-gay term to describe Auxerre midfielder Benoit Pedretti. He later apologized to Pedretti, who did not pursue the matter.