Montpellier beats Sochaux 2-1 to pressure PSG

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PARIS (AP) -- Montpellier beat relegation battlers Sochaux 2-1 to move provisionally three points clear at the top of the French league and keep the pressure on title rival Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

Midfielder Younes Belhanda gave Montpellier an early lead and, after Modibo Maiga equalized for the visitors with his third goal in three games, striker Souleymane Camara scored the winner early in the second half.

Montpellier also opened up a seven-point gap on third-place Lille after the defending champion, which has played one game more, lost 3-1 at Brest.

Montpellier scored in the fourth minute when top scorer Olivier Giroud went clean through and saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Pierrick Cros. Belhanda followed up and neatly chipped the ball over Cros.

Maiga equalized for Sochaux in the 28th, controlling David Sauget's cross from the right and acrobatically driving it home.

Cros kept Montpellier at bay with some fine saves, but was beaten again in the 55th when Camara fired into an empty net after Cros fisted away John Utaka's drive.

Lille had won its last three games to get back into title contention, but went two goals down inside the first 10 minutes.

After five minutes, right back Omar Daf smashed the ball in from 35 meters after Joe Cole's clearance landed in his path. It was the veteran Senegal defender's first ever league goal in his 14th season.

Bruno Grougi made it 2-0 from the penalty spot with this eighth goal of the campaign after defender Franck Beria handled the ball.

Forward Dimitri Payet pulled a goal back when he turned in Benoit Pedretti's cross, but Alexandre Alphonse restored Brest's two-goal lead in the 53rd, and Lille's chances of a comeback were curtailed when striker Tulio De Melo was sent off with 20 minutes left.

Lyon was playing struggling Auxerre later Saturday.

PSG takes on bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Also, it was: Ajaccio 1, Saint-Etienne 1; Dijon 0, Nancy 2; Evian 1, Rennes 3, and Valenciennes 2, Toulouse 0.

Veteran midfielder Jerome Leroy gave Evian the lead against his former club, but sixth-placed Rennes replied with second-half goals from forward Youssouf Hadji, winger Jonathan Pitroipa and striker Mevlut Erding.

Nancy and Valenciennes are both nestled in mid-table and closer to safety after their wins.

Midfielder Bakaye Traore scored both of Nancy's goals, taking his tally to four in the last three games.

Valenciennes made the most of the extra man after Toulouse winger Franck Tabanou was sent off late in the first half. Midfielder Gael Danic opened the scoring in the 62nd minute and Mamadou Samassa sealed the win with a late penalty.

Toulouse, which has lost its last two matches, remains in fifth place.

Ajaccio continued to climb away from the relegation zone after defender Carl Medjani canceled out Florent Sinama-Pongolle's opener.

In Sunday's other games, Caen faces Bordeaux, and Nice takes on Lorient.