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Lyon beats Ajaccio to keep pressure on Marseille

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PARIS — Lyon kept the pressure on Marseille at the top of the French league after beating Ajaccio 2-0 on Sunday, thanks to goals from center half Dejan Lovren and striker Lisandro Lopez.

The win moved Lyon provisionally into first place ahead of Marseille's match away to Nancy later Sunday, where Marseille will be aiming for a fifth consecutive win.

Lyon, which has 13 points, took the lead in the 25th minute when Lovren rose above goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and headed home Clement Grenier's corner.

Ochoa then kept Ajaccio in the game, saving Grenier's clever chip and making a brilliant point-blank stop from striker Bafetimbi Gomis' diving header.

But after midfielder Ricardo Faty hit the post for Ajaccio, the visitors fell further behind in the 74th when Lopez ran onto veteran midfielder Steed Malbranque's pass and hit a low shot that gave Ochoa no chance.

Earlier, Lorient held on with nine players to win 2-1 at Rennes in the French league on Sunday and move into provisional second place.

Lorient had a player sent off in each half, but withstood late pressure from Rennes as Alain Traore scored two superb goals.

Traore gave Lorient the lead in the 23rd minute when Rennes lost the ball outside the penalty area, and he curled it over the head of goalkeeper Benoit Costil from 25 meters.

He again gave Costil no chance with a thumping free kick 30 meters out into the top corner shortly before halftime.

"Traore scored two goals that were out of this world," Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti said. "But we could have come back into the game if we'd played more simply."

Rennes, which was a contender for a Europa League spot last season, has already lost four games and is now in the relegation zone.

"We're deep in trouble, I didn't think our season would start in such a difficult way," Antonetti said. "But there's no point going on about it, or analyzing 100,000 things. We have to focus on what worked and what did not."

Right back Maxime Baca and goalkeeper Fabien Audard were sent off, both for fouls on Jonathan Pitroipa, who pulled a goal back in the 71st.

Baca was shown a straight red for a two-footed lunge on Pitroipa, while Audard — who was cautioned for contesting Baca's dismissal — joined his teammate in the dressing room in the 53rd when he rushed out of his penalty area and brought down the speedy winger as he ran onto Julien Feret's pass.

After Rennes substitute Cheick Diarra was sent off late on, Traore went close to getting his hat trick with another stunning strike from 25 meters that Costil only just got his fingertips to.

Later Sunday, French leader Marseille looked to make it five straight wins when it traveled to play Nancy, and Lyon faced Ajaccio.