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September 25, 2017

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Paris club widens lead as Montpellier lose 1-0

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain needed an injury-time goal to rescue a 2-2 draw away to struggling Caen on Saturday, and it was enough to extend PSG's lead at the top of the French league to two points after Montpellier's 1-0 loss at Nancy.

PSG has relied on late goals to either secure a win or salvage a point in its last five matches, and coach Carlo Ancelotti's team was fortunate to get a draw as its vulnerability at set-pieces was again exposed by an inspired Caen team.

Montpellier, which would have moved back to the top with a win, finished the game with nine players as center half Vitorino Hilton and midfielder Benjamin Stambouli were sent off.

Marseille lost 2-1 at home to Dijon, its fifth consecutive league defeat and sixth straight in all competitions, all but ending its hopes of finishing in the top three places and earning a Champions League place next season.

Last weekend, PSG needed a Kevin Gameiro goal deep into injury time to win 2-1 at Dijon, and PSG labored throughout against Caen.

Pierre-Alain Frau put Caen in front against his former team in the 54th minute, but record signing Javier Pastore equalized two minutes later with his ninth league goal this season.

Frau, who hit the crossbar as Caen wasted three early chances to score, got on the end of Livio Nabab's cross and beat goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu at the second attempt.

Caen hardly had time to regroup before Pastore cut in down the right and dribbled past three players, but then enjoyed a slice of luck as his deflected shot left goalie Alexis Thebaux flat-footed.

PSG almost took the lead a minute later when Gameiro's angled shot hit the crossbar, but Caen scored against the run of play when center half Thomas Heurtaux headed home Frederic Bulot's corner with defender Alex failing to pick up his run.

PSG has conceded 10 goals in the last five games, the majority from free kicks and corners.

Defender Christophe Jallet saved PSG when he chested down Jeremy Menez's cross from the right and volleyed home to preserve Ancelotti's unbeaten record since taking charge in January.

At Nancy, meanwhile, Hilton was red-carded late in the first half for hacking down Bakaye Traore.

Stambouli joined Hilton on the hour when he fouled midfielder Lossemy Karaboue, and defender Andre Luiz scored the ensuing penalty.

Marseille finally put an end to four league games without scoring thanks to topscorer Loic Remy's early penalty, but the visitors equalized through Younousse Sankhare, and winger Gael Kakuta grabbed Dijon's winner with a late penalty.

It was Kakuta's fourth league goal since joining on loan from Chelsea in January.

In other matches, it was: Auxerre 0, Evian 2; Bordeaux 1, Ajaccio 1, and Lorient 2, Brest 1. Saint-Etienne hosted Lyon late Saturday.

Striker Cheick Diabate put Bordeaux ahead in the 70th, but defender Yoann Poulard scored late on to earn Ajaccio a crucial point and keep it above the relegation zone.

Goals from Thomas Kahlenberg and Kevin Berigaud moved Evian into 10th spot, three points behind ninth-place Marseille.

Striker Eden Ben Basat gave Brest an early lead with a thumping shot into the top corner, but defender Bruno Ecuele Manga equalized and striker Kevin Monnet-Paquet sealed Lorient's win.

On Sunday, Rennes hosts Toulouse, Sochaux takes on Nice, and Lille faces Valenciennes.

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