Nice win battle of French Champions League hopefuls

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Nice win battle of French Champions League hopefuls

Kasper Dolberg scored one goal and set up the other as Nice won 2-1 at Rennes

Kasper Dolberg scored one goal and set up another as Nice won 2-1 away at Rennes on Sunday in a clash between two Ligue 1 clubs with Champions League ambitions.

Rennes, who are owned by one of France’s richest men, Francois Pinault, are looking to return to the Champions League after appearing in the group stage for the first time last season.

They came into the weekend in second place, four points clear of Nice, themselves owned by Ineos, the petrochemicals group chaired by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.

Nice, managed by Christophe Galtier, the man who led Lille to last season’s title, started the campaign strongly before stumbling in recent weeks but they went ahead in Brittany when Dolberg converted a 19th-minute penalty awarded for a foul on Dante.

Danish international striker Dolberg then teed up Youcef Atal to score the second in the 51st minute with a superb effort from a tight angle.

Benjamin Bourigeaud soon pulled one back for Rennes but Nice held on to close to within a point of Rennes in the table.

The defeat for Rennes means runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain, currently 11 points clear, can go even further ahead with a win at home to Monaco later on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Marseille have the chance to retake second place by beating Strasbourg away in Sunday’s other late match.

Earlier, reigning champions Lille, fresh from qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League, were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Lyon, a result which leaves the two clubs still adrift in mid-table.

Lyon last week had a point deducted as a punishment for the trouble that led to November’s game against Marseille being abandoned after Dimitri Payet was hit on the head by a bottle.

Also on Sunday, there were wins for struggling trio Bordeaux, Clermont and Metz.

Metz hammered Lorient 4-1 to climb above their opponents and out of the bottom two.

Saint-Etienne, who sacked manager Claude Puel last weekend, remain rooted to the foot of the table after losing 2-0 at Reims on Saturday.

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