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Thauvin on target as Marseille sink Rennes

© AFP | Olympique de Marseille's midfielder Florian Thauvin gestures during the French L1 football match against Rennes January 13, 2018

PARIS (AFP) - 

Florian Thauvin scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season but also missed a penalty as Marseille cruised to a 3-0 victory at Rennes on Saturday that kept them firmly in the Champions League race.

The former Newcastle winger saw a first-half spot-kick saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek but redeemed himself by setting up Valere Germain for the opening goal on 35 minutes.

Thauvin's ninth assist of the season drew him level alongside Neymar, with Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain away to Claudio Ranieri's fifth-place Nantes on Sunday.

Hiroki Sakai produced a brilliant goal-line block to deny Ismaila Sarr an equaliser, and minutes later Germain teed up Morgan Sanson to rifle in Marseille's second just before half-time.

Thauvin completed the scoring at Roazhon Park eight minutes from the end when he nodded in a cross from Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo.

Marseille avenged a 3-1 defeat by Rennes at the Velodrome in September -- one of just three losses for Rudi Garcia's team this season -- to move level on 41 points with second-place Monaco and Lyon.

Monaco, who trail PSG by nine points, visit Montpellier later on Saturday while Lyon will also go in search of a fifth straight league win when they host second-from-bottom Angers on Sunday.

© 2018 AFP