- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

PARIS (AP) - Midfielder Yoann Gourcuff scored his third goal in two games as third-place Lyon beat Marseille 1-0 on Sunday, ending the French league leader’s bid to win a club record ninth straight league game.

Gourcuff, once hailed as the natural successor to famed France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, has been beset by loss of form and injuries since joining Lyon four years ago.

But he followed up his brace against Montpellier last weekend with an accomplished finish in the 65th minute to break Marseille’s resistance.

Striker Alexandre Lacazette picked him out on the right of the penalty area, and Gourcuff skipped past midfielder Giannelli Imbula with a lovely turn before firing a powerful shot under the crossbar.

“It’s always annoying to lose. It’s a bit of a paradox because we conceded this goal when we were playing at our best,” Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said. “We were up against a good team but we didn’t control the ball as well as we usually do. We didn’t close them down enough. Our run has come to an end, but we still have a few points in hand.”

Marseille’s loss leaves it four points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. Lyon is five points behind.

“We studied the way they play and we tried to cause them problems. They had won eight games in a row,” Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons said. “They’re a great team and they came here with a lot of ambition. So we put in a great performance. We didn’t give up.”

Forward Clinton N’Jie almost made it 2-0 late on but goalkeeper Steve Mandanda saved his effort.

Marseille forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, the league’s top scorer with 10 league goals, was kept largely quiet.

Shortly after defender Brice Djadjedje went off injured following a clash of heads, winger Florian Thauvin missed a good chance for the home side in the 38th when he just failed to get on the end of a promising cross from Ghana forward Andre Ayew.

Ayew had earlier gone close when his curling shot was palmed away by goalie Anthony Lopes.

The win moves Lyon above Saint-Etienne on goal difference.

Earlier, winger Max-Alain Gradel scored late in the second half as Saint-Etienne beat resilient Metz 1-0, while Brazilian midfielder Carlos Eduardo scored five goals in an astonishing individual performance as Nice won 7-2 away to Guingamp.

Gradel pounced in the 74th minute with an acrobatic finish after Ricky Van Wolfswinkel headed the ball into his path.

Earlier, striker Habib Habibou and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure scored second-half goals as Rennes beat Lille 2-0 to move into ninth place.

Winger Paul-Georges Ntep set up both goals after making fine runs down each flank.

But that was little in comparison to Eduardo, who tormented Guingamp all afternoon.

“Of course I’m going to congratulate Carlos, who took his chances well,” Nice coach Claude Puel said. “He’s got the physique and the technique to go to do great things. He’s 25 years old and he’s still young, so he still has a lot of room for improvement.”

Last-place Guingamp took the lead against seventh-place Nice through midfielder Claudio Beauvue’s diving header in the eighth minute.

Eduardo replied four minute later with a powerful free kick into the top left corner, and side-footed home from midfielder Didier Digard’s pass to make it 2-1 in the 26th.

“We’re not used to such scores. That’s for sure,” Puel said. “Things went well for us, and thanks to Carlos we got back in the game quickly.”

After Danish goalkeeper Jonas Lossl made a superb save to deny him, Eduardo completed his hat trick in the 43rd with a fine run to the back post to turn in midfielder Eric Bautheac’s cross.

Forward Alassane Plea made it 4-1 in first-half injury time after Lossl botched a clearance.

Plea set up Eduardo for his fourth in the 51st, and he got his fifth of a memorable match in the 65th when he fired emphatically past Lossl from just inside the penalty area, after being set up by Belgian midfielder Julien Vercauteren.

Eduardo, who is on loan from Portuguese side Porto, almost completed a double hat trick with a late header that went just wide.

Ntep also distinguished himself.

First, he received the ball behind the halfway line on the right and burst past the Rennes defense before delivering a perfect cross for Habibou to head home in the 47th minute.

Six minutes later, he collected the ball about 60 meters out on the left, dribbled past Danish defender Simon Kjaer and crossed the ball for Doucoure to pounce.

Nice has 17 points, while Rennes has 15 points and leads Metz and Lille on goal difference.

PSG beat Bordeaux 3-0 on Saturday.


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