Lorient vs. Olympique Marseille  2 - 1

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Ligue 1 preview: Montpellier continue title push

28 April 2012 03:50

Montpellier's bid to win their first Ligue 1 title takes them to Toulouse on Friday while second-placed PSG take on Lille on Sunday.

Montpellier - who top the league by two points with five games to play - last lifted a major trophy in 1990 when they won the Coupe de France.

Many have predicted Rene Girard's men to fall off the pace at some stage of the season, especially with the big-spending PSG hot on their heels.

They have shown impressive resolve and although Girard admits his side are feeling the pressure, he believes it is something felt by every football side.

"We have a competition to play, pressure is growing up for everyone, both in top or down in the rankings," Girard said.

"And that's football, there is always some pressure, ask to Chelsea and Barcelona if they were not under pressure, ask Guardiola (Barcelona's manager)," he said, referring to the recent Champions League semi-final between the two sides.

"It is something which is part of our job."

Toulouse sit seventh on the table but have lost three of their past four clashes, including a 2-1 defeat at Evian TG on Saturday.

Montpellier have only ever lost once to Toulouse in their nine matches, winning five of them.

And Girard's men will be favourites to add to their lead atop Ligue 1 on Friday.

Lorient also host Marseille on Friday, with the latter without a win in their last 12 league fixtures.

With PSG not in action until Sunday, Carlo Ancelotti's men could find themselves five points adrift of the table-toppers when they kick-off at third-placed Lille.

The match shapes as a pivotal one in the club's push for the title, with Lille notoriously difficult to beat at their Stade Lille-Metropole venue, where they have lost just four of their last 53 Ligue 1 fixtures.

PSG's away form has been indifferent too, winning just two of their last seven fixtures on the road.

A 6-1 drubbing of second-bottom Sochaux on Sunday may give them a lift heading into the match, with attackers Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, Jeremy Menez, Nene and Sylvain Armand all getting on the scoresheet.

Also on Sunday, Ajaccio's bid to avoid the drop will be tested as they travel to an in-form Rennes and Saint-Etienne's push for a Europa League spot continues as they welcome Dijon.

Auxerre - who sit bottom and are six points from safety - take on 18th-placed Brest in a relegation six-pointer and fellow strugglers Sochaux are at home against Bordeaux.

Other matches see Nancy battle Caen and Valenciennes play host to Nice.

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Ligue 1 wrap: Montpellier charge continues as Marseille fall

27 April 2012 23:15

Montpellier continued their unlikely run at the Ligue 1 title with a 1-0 win over Toulouse on Friday, while Marseille's horror run continued.

Younes Belhanda struck the only goal for Montpellier inside three minutes with a fine finish, before Olivier Giroud missed a penalty in the second half against an enterprising, yet wasteful Toulouse side.

The visitors, who were hoping to build their lead with the knowledge that challengers Paris Saint-Germain would face incumbent champions Lille on Sunday, immediately set about asserting their authority at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse, and were rewarded inside three minutes.

Belhanda found space to deliver a fine shot past Ali Ahamada at his near post for his 11th league goal of an already stellar campaign.

It could have been better for Rene Girard's men, who moments later saw Marco Estrada's free-kick narrowly escape the bar, before a speculative Giroud header from an unassuming Belhanda cross almost deceived the goalkeeper.

In the second period, Toulouse would suffer yet another blow. A free-kick from the left by Estrada was judged to be handled by Franck Tabanou, with the linesman signalling for a penalty.

Up stepped Giroud, whose rather tame penalty was saved by Ahamada on the hour to deny what would have been a certain victory for the visitors.

The miss did not come back to haunt them though, with Montpellier moving five points clear at the top ahead of PSG's trip to Lille on Sunday.

Elsewhere on Friday, Marseille's shocking form in the league continued as they went down 2-1 away to Lorient.

Despite winning the Coupe de la Ligue earlier this month, Marseille have not tasted victory in the league since January 30, their winless run now stretching to 13 matches after yet another defeat.

Arnold Mvuemba scored the opener for Lorient from the penalty spot four minutes before half time, and when Kevin Monnet-Paquet grabbed a second soon after the restart, things were looking dire for Didier Deschamps' side.

Mathieu Valbuena did manage to pull one back for the visitors on 78 minutes, but they would get no closer , Lorient claiming win ad moving within three points of 10th-placed Marseille.

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +34 82
2 38 +34 79
3 38 +33 74
4 38 +13 64
5 38 +12 61
6 38 +9 60
7 38 +4 57
8 38 +3 56
9 38 -1 50
10 38 +4 48
11 38 -10 45
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -7 42
14 38 -20 42
15 38 -7 41
16 38 -21 41
17 38 -14 39
18 38 -20 38
19 38 -25 36
20 38 -11 34