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Football | France

Mandanda blunder costs Marseille



Marseille missed the chance to climb back into second spot in Ligue 1 as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Rennes in Brittany on Saturday.

In an entertaining contest, Marseille led at the interval thanks to a strike from Ghana star Andre Ayew, who bulldozed his way through the home defence and exchanged passes with Mathieu Valbuena before poking the ball past advancing Rennes 'keeper Benoit Costil.

However, they were pegged back just before the hour mark when defender Kevin Theophile-Catherine powerfully headed home a right-wing corner for a rare goal.

Both sides had chances to go on and win the game after that as the action swung from end to end.

Ayew's brother Jordan put Marseille back in front with just seven minutes remaining after Morgan Amalfitano sent in a tantalising cross but in the 88th minute, Rennes rescued the point they deserved.

A long clearance from Costil created confusion in the Marseille defence and Romain Alessandrini nodded the Bretons level to move them into fourth place, six points adrift of Marseille and one ahead of Nice.

The draw leaves Elie Baup's Marseille three points behind leaders Lyon -2-0 winners at Valenciennes on Friday - and adrift of Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference before the capital club entertain Lille on Sunday evening.

""I am a bit disappointed with the players as we had the three poiints in the bag until the 88th minute," observed Baup.

Andre Ayew also voiced frustration.

"We are very frustrated as the three points were there for the taking, though it's still a good away point against a good side. We can still do better," the Ghanaian striker said.

After selling France midfielder Yann M'Vila to Rubin Kazan during the week, League Cup finalists Rennes will be pleased to have come through this test unscathed and still in contention towards the top of the table.

The point moves them provisionally back into fourth before the rest of the weekend's action with Lorient missing a chance to go back above them after a 2-1 loss at bottom side Nancy, who managed only their second win of the campaign.

Reigning champions Montpellier are meanwhile recovering gradually after a poor start to the season.

A 2-0 home victory over Sochaux, courtesy of first-half goals from Emanuel Herrera and Nigerian John Utaka, lifted the southerners into seventh spot, four points behind Rennes.

After a slew of positive results, Montpellier had begun to slide back into their early season slumbers with losses to Rennes, Marseille and Sochaux and coach Rene Girard was pleased to stop the rot.

"It was good to show a reaction - the lads reacted well," said Girard.

On Friday, Lyon shrugged off a constant stream of transfer speculation surrounding key players and a difficult start to the New Year on the pitch by going to Valenciennes and winning 2-0 courtesy of goals by Gueida Fofana and Bafetimbi Gomis.

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