- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Marseille’s chaotic season took another turn for the worse as its increasingly frustrated fans clashed with riot police during the first half of Friday’s 5-2 home loss to Rennes in the French league.

Marseille has struggled badly at home this season, failing to win at Stade Velodrome since Sept. 13. As a protest, Marseille fans refrained from supporting their team in the first 15 minutes against Rennes.

The move backfired as Rennes went 3-0 up inside 13 minutes thanks to goals from midfielder Yoann Gourcuff -who scored twice in the match - center half Fallou Diagne and highly-rated 18-year-old forward Ousmane Dembele, who got his 10th goal this season.

Riot police clashed briefly with at least scores of Marseille fans appearing determined to get on the pitch but no injuries were reported.

The win moved Rennes provisionally up to third place ahead of this weekend’s matches, while Marseille - the only French club to win the Champions League, back in 1993 - is stuck in mid-table.

“We’re not making any excuses tonight, we’re not hiding behind anything,” said Marseille midfielder Lassana Diarra. “We’re not good and that’s it.”

Marseille winger Florian Thauvin - who had a plastic bottle thrown at him during the first half - pulled a goal back with a brilliant curling strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 20th.

But the fans were still not happy and jeered the players off the field at the interval.

Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has been Marseille’s best player in a poor season and fans unfurled a banner at the start of the second half to thank him in a rare show of support.

Mandanda’s opposite number Benoit Costil - France’s No.3 goalkeeper - blundered five minutes into the second half, dropping a simple ball from a corner as Portuguese defender Jorge Rolando made it 3-2.

Marseille winger Remy Cabella hit the post a minute later and, in a topsy-turvy match, it was then Mandanda’s turn to make a mistake as he let Gourcuff’s strike from 20 meters squirm under him.

Striker Giovanni Sio then made it 5-2 after brilliant approach work from Dembele, and it was almost an embarrassing 6-2 as substitute forward Jeremie Boga shot just wide soon after.

While Marseille struggles, bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain has already won the league with eight games to spare and hosts second-place Monaco on Sunday night.

In Saturday’s matches, it’s: Saint-Etienne vs. Montpellier; Lille vs. Toulouse; Caen vs. Troyes; Angers vs. Lorient; Reims vs. Guingamp; and Lyon vs. Nantes.

Also Sunday, Bordeaux faces Bastia and Nice - chasing a top-three finish - hosts relegation-threatened Gazelec Ajaccio.

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