PARIS (AFP) - Mamadou Niang marked his return to club football by launching Marseille on their way to a crucial 2-0 derby win over Nice on Sunday.
Niang, whose Senegal team failed to make it past the group stage at the African Cup of Nations in Ghana, tapped home during a dominant first half for the visitors to give Marseille a 1-0 lead at the interval in Nice.
With 18 minutes remaining Marseille survived an onslaught as Nice battled for an equaliser, with some goalkeeping heroics from Steve Mandanda keeping Marseille in the lead.
Two minutes later Marseille doubled their lead when Djibril Cisse fired a loose ball from the edge of the area through a crowd of players in to the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Despite notching only their ninth victory from 23 games, Marseille moved up to seventh in the table and within sight of the European places.
Earlier Lens continued their winter revival, following a disastrous top flight coaching debut for Jean-Pierre Papin, with a 4-1 rout of Caen.
Lens got off to a lightning start, with Toifilou Maoulida hitting the net after just 16 seconds.
Lens doubled their score in the 33rd minute when Senegalese midfielder Kader Mangane headed home from a pass by Olivier Monterrubio.
Caen, sitting in respectable eighth place but beaten 6-1 recently by Marseille, struggled to find a response and by the 67th minute were trailing by three goals after on-loan Lyon striker Lois Remy struck home.
Two minutes later Caen finally got reward from one of their numerous set piece opportunities when midfielder Gregory Proment fired home a free kick.
Caen's problems resumed however when defender Nicolas Seube beat his own keeper with an own goal in the 75th minute, sealing their eighth defeat of the season and a missed opportunity to climb into the top five.
Caen coach Franck Dumas has refused to speak to the media until the end of the season, leaving that task to club president Jean-Francois Fortin.
"I saw some good things out there, but a lot more determination from Lens," said Fortin.
Lens, with 11 goals from their past four outings, are now primed for their future rivals.
"The players are hungry, and the forwards finally showed what they are capable of. We wanted to go out there and show it," said Papin.
On Saturday Lyon maintained their four-point lead over Bordeaux with a 4-1 win over Sochaux. Bordeaux kept in the chase with a 3-0 win over Metz.
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