Valenciennes keeps safety hopes alive
PARIS (AP) — Valenciennes and Sochaux kept their safety hopes alive by beating respectively Evian 1-0 and Lorient 2-0 in the French league on Saturday.
Valenciennes striker Majeed Waris converted a rebound in the 62nd minute to help his team pull within two points of Evian, in the 17th and safe place.
“One day ago, we were dead,” Valenciennes coach Ariel Jacobs said. “It’s nice to win against a direct rival, to keep a clean sheet and to earn a second straight win. But the ultimate goal is to get 40 points.”
It has 28.
In Sochaux, midfielder Roy Contout fired home a low diagonal strike in the seventh before defender Stoppila Sunzu doubled the lead with a header in the 79th. Sochaux remained in 19th, five points behind Evian.
“It’s certainly the gods of football who are a bit with us,” Sochaux coach Herve Renard said. “For a long time they were against us because we didn’t do the things we needed to do. There are signs that lead me to say that things are changing.”
Meanwhile, third-place Lille performed poorly in splitting the points with lowly Nantes from a goalless draw.
Lille striker Nolan Roux nearly scored an own goal in the 51st by hitting the bar with an awkward clearance.
“We didn’t find the solution today,” Lille coach Rene Girard told the club’s website. “We could have lost the match. Nantes had three or four clear-cut chances to win it.”
Lille trails second-place Monaco by six points while Nantes is five points clear of the relegation zone.
“We’re disappointed,” Lille defender Franck Beria said. “We know we didn’t play our best football.”
Lille players were booed by the crowd at the final whistle.
Paris Saint-Germain tops the league with an eight-point lead over Monaco. PSG hosts Saint-Etienne on Sunday while Monaco visits Lyon and Bordeaux faces Montpellier.
Elsewhere, Toulouse earned a third straight win by edging Rennes 3-2 to climb to eighth place.
Alexy Bosetti and teenager Neal Maupay scored in a 2-0 victory over Bastia to fire Nice into the middle of the table. Bastia was down to 10 men from the 39th when Yannick Cahuzac picked up a second yellow card.
Last-place Ajaccio lost 2-1 to Guingamp, Claudio Beauvue netting the winner by heading in a cross from Thibault Giresse in the 74th.
Marseille drew 1-1 with Reims on Friday to remain in sixth place.