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August 19, 2017

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Marseille overcome Rennes 3-1 to stay top of the league

PARIS -- Andre-Pierre Gignac maintained his fine form by scoring another crucial goal as Marseille beat Rennes 3-1 on Sunday to return to the top of the French league, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain won its first match with a 2-1 victory at Lille.

PSG needed two goals from star signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the first after just 27 seconds, and it was welcome relief for under-pressure coach Carlo Ancelotti following three straight draws. Ibrahimovic is the league's top scorer with four goals, one more than Gignac.

Mocked by critics last year for his lack of fitness and excess weight, Gignac has bounced back with a vengeance this season. He scored the winning goal away to Montpellier in the last round and he also set up the opening goal for right back Jeremy Morel on Sunday as Marseille extended its perfect record.

"He has got himself into good shape," Marseille coach Elie Baup said. "He is very motivated and is showing signs of confidence."

Marseille, which has been selling players in a bid to stave off mounting debts, has 12 points from four games — two more than Lyon.

"We feel that we have a real collective strength this year. It's always easier when it's like that," Morel told television channel BeIn Sport. "We wanted to start the season in the best way possible. If we carry on like this, I think that will do us."

With the match poised at 1-1, Gignac struck in the 84th minute with a stunning strike into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area after Rennes had failed to properly clear the ball.

"It was a top-class goal. I hope he continues to keep scoring," Baup said. "He tries shots like that in training. It was a great goal but it doesn't surprise me because I know he can put them away."

Marseille took the lead in the 35th when Gignac got behind the Rennes defense and his cross was turned in by Morel.

Rennes equalized in the 57th, winger Julien Feret running onto Mevlut Erding's pass and shooting firmly past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from close range.

Marseille sealed the win deep into injury time through Rennes right back Romain Danze's own goal.

For PSG, Ibrahimovic struck early on after being set up by winger Jeremy Menez. It was not the quickest goal in the French top flight, however, as Michel Rio scored for Caen after just eight seconds in 1993.

Central defender Aurelien Chedjou equalized for Lille in the 12th minute when he headed in Marvin Martin's corner.

Ibrahimovic, who scored two goals on his PSG debut at home to Lorient, restored PSG's advantage after latching onto a fine pass from playmaker Javier Pastore and clipping the ball over goalkeeper Mickael Landreau in the 21st.

Ibrahimovic almost completed a first-half hat trick but headed just over from Christophe Jallet's cross in the 30th.

Salomon Kalou came on for Lille after the break and he went close in the 75th, but PSG held on.

Earlier, Bordeaux missed the chance to move level with Lyon in second place when it was held to a 1-1 draw by Nice.

Bordeaux had defender Ludovic Sane sent off midway through the second half but the hosts took the lead in the 86th minute through forward Henri Saivet. That looked to be enough until midfielder Mahamane Traore equalized for Nice in the second minute of stoppage time.

Fourth-place Bordeaux, which has qualified for the Europa League group stage, is unbeaten and has eight points.

"We started badly with a player sent off and we were playing our fifth match in 15 days," Bordeaux coach Francis Gillot said. "We paid for that today."

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