Lyon, Marseille stumble in France
Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of winning a first French crown since 1994 and thereby giving David Beckham's upcoming stint in the City of Light a glorious tinge were boosted on Sunday when their nearest rivals dropped points.
Lyon slumped to what could prove to be a significant 3-1 home loss to mid-table Lille as the easterners failed to make inroads into a six-point deficit while third-placed Marseille, the 2010 champions, could only manage a 1-1 draw at modest Evian after finishing with nine men.
Lyon handed Lille their first win of 2013 after the hosts turned in a pale showing at the Stade Gerland. Aurelien Chedjou headed Lille in front from a corner on the half hour and then Dimitri Payet fed Florent Balmont, formerly of Lyon, for the second on the stroke of half-time.
Salomon Kalou made it 3-0 to the visitors with a penalty five minutes after the restart following a handball by Milan Bisevac. Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez pulled one back from the spot after Chedjou was adjudged to have impeded him only seven minutes after Kalou buried his penalty.
While Lyon suffered their fifth league loss, Marseille found struggling Evian an irritating rival. Andre-Pierre Gignac scored five minutes after the break for Marseille, playing a one-two with Mathieu Valbuena, for his eighth goal of the season.
But the southerners' hopes of a win evaporated when Yannick Sagbo levelled on the hour from the penalty spot to leave Marseille eight points off the summit. The spot-kick came following a foul on Saber Khlifa by Kassim Abdallah for which the Comorian international saw red as the last man.
Marseille also had Ghanaian international Jordan Ayew sent off with 15 minutes remaining for two yellow cards in quick succession after coming on as a substitute and were unable to do better than glean only their second point in their last three league matches.
Rennes kept their impressive form going with a 2-0 home success over Toulouse courtesy of goals from Romain Alessandrini and Mevlut Erding in the other Ligue 1 match-up today.