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Last-gasp goal by De Melo keeps leaders Lille flying high


PARIS (Reuters) -- Substitute Tulio de Melo struck deep into injury time to earn Ligue 1 leaders Lille a last-gasp 1-0 win at bottom club Arles-Avignon on Saturday.

De Melo scored three minutes into added time as Lille, on 31 points from 17 games, stayed one point ahead of Paris St Germain who triumphed 2-1 at Valenciennes thanks to a Nene double.

Elsewhere, Lorient thrashed struggling RC Lens 3-0 and Nancy eased away from the relegation zone by beating Sochaux 1-0.

Later on Saturday (2000 GMT) champions Olympique Marseille visit Auxerre hoping to cut the deficit on Lille from five to two points.

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At Avignon, Lille were boosted when the hosts had Jamel Ait Ben Idir sent off for a second bookable offence in the 53rd minute.

Lille piled on the pressure and were rewarded when De Melo headed in a cross from fellow substitute Ludovic Obraniak just seconds before the final whistle.

"It's important to win even when you don't play at your best," De Melo told the Foot Plus TV channel. "It was an important goal, I'm proud I scored it."

PSG are hot on Lille's heels after Nene earned them all three points at Valenciennes with a curling 25-metre shot six minutes from time.