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SOCCER

Marseille tops Toulouse to preserve title race

Marseille kept the race for the Ligue 1 title open on Saturday by picking up a 2-1 victory over Toulouse at the Stade Velodrome.

Andre Ayew produced a brace in the victory, scoring in the 45th minute and once more in the 62nd to put Marseille firmly in the driver's seat.

His second goal proved to be pivotal as Eden Ben Basat pulled one back for Toulouse eight minutes from time, but Marseille managed to stave off some late pressure to clinch the win and improve to 70 points, four points shy of first- place PSG.

Toulouse has lost four of its last six Ligue 1 contests to remain mid-table on 45 points.

At the opposite end of the table, Troyes claimed a vital win to aid its survival hopes on Saturday, edging Ajaccio, 1-0, at the Stade Francois Coty. The win, Troyes' second in a row, brings the club to 34 points on the season, just one point shy of safety.

Valenciennes capitalized on a fortunate situation at the Stade du Hainaut on Saturday, riding a two-man advantage to a 4-1 romp of Rennes to extend its unbeaten run in Ligue 1 play to five matches.

After Jonathan Pitroipa and Maor Melikson traded first-half goals, Dimitri Foulquier and John Boye were sent off six minutes apart in the second half, allowing Lindsay Rose, Kenny Lala and Jose Saez to hand the home side a resounding victory.

Elsewhere in the French top flight on Saturday, Bordeaux handed Nancy a second straight league defeat with a 3-2 win at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, Slovan Privat bagged a brace to lift Sochaux to a 2-0 road victory over Brest and Anthony Modeste scored twice in Bastia's 3-1 defeat of Montpellier.