Last Updated: 13/01/18 10:31pm
Florian Thauvin helped Marseilles on their way to a 3-0 win against Rennes
Florian Thauvin scored his ninth goal of the season but also missed a penalty as Marseille cruised to a 3-0 victory at Rennes on Saturday that kept them firmly in the Champions League race.
The former Newcastle winger saw a first-half spot-kick saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek but redeemed himself by setting up Valere Germain for the opening goal on 35 minutes.
Thauvin’s ninth assist of the season drew him level alongside Neymar, with Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain away to Claudio Ranieri’s fifth-place Nantes on Sunday.
Hiroki Sakai produced a brilliant goal-line block to deny Ismaila Sarr an equaliser, and minutes later Germain teed up Morgan Sanson to rifle in Marseille’s second just before half-time.
Thauvin completed the scoring at Roazhon Park eight minutes from the end when he nodded in a cross from Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo.
Marseille avenged a 3-1 defeat by Rennes at the Velodrome in September – one of just three losses for Rudi Garcia’s team this season – to move level on 41 points with second-place Monaco and Lyon.
Second-placed Monaco are eight points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain having played a game more after being held to a goalless draw at Montpellier on Saturday evening.
The champions were left frustrated at the Stade de la Mosson as their first league outing of 2018 saw their six-match winning run in all competitions grind to a halt.
PSG are in action on Sunday when they visit fifth-placed Nantes. One point behind Monaco are Lyon in third – they host second-bottom Angers on Sunday – and fourth-placed Marseille.
Nice are up to sixth after they beat Amiens 1-0 at home, Pierre Lees-Melou striking in the 66th minute.
Lille moved out of the relegation zone, rising from 18th to 14th, as their first league match under new boss Christophe Galtier ended in a 1-0 win at Caen – and with both sides reduced to 10 men.
Nicolas Pepe scored in the 43rd minute, with the hosts’ goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre, apparently unhappy about how the goal was being celebrated, then getting into a confrontation with a group of Lille players and being dismissed after the referee intervened.
The away side subsequently had Fode Ballo-Toure dismissed early in the second half following a challenge on Ronny Rodelin.
Lille are now three points clear of the drop zone – Toulouse have dropped to 18th – and Bordeaux are four points above it having moved up from 15th to 13th with a 1-0 win at Troyes, who are down to 16th, two points clear.
After Troyes midfielder Saif-Eddine Khaoui’s early penalty was saved by Benoit Costil, Gaetan Laborde netted a header on the 15-minute mark.
Elsewhere, bottom side Metz drew 1-1 at Dijon as Nolan Roux’s late goal cancelled out Julio Tavares’ first-minute strike for the hosts, who had Papy Djilobodji sent off in stoppage time.