January 26, 2013
Rennes' Kevin Theophile-Catherine (center) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Marseille.
Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Marseille remains in third place in the French league after twice wasting the lead in a 2-2 draw at Rennes, with a handling error from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda gifting Rennes a late equalizer on Saturday.

Winger Andre Ayew put Marseille ahead late in the first half and his younger brother Jordan Ayew restored Marseille's lead in the 82nd minute after defender Kevin Theophile-Catherine's leveler for Rennes.

But Mandanda, who has a record of making careless mistakes despite being an outstanding shot-stopper, let a soft cross from the right slip through his hands and Romain Alessandrini nodded home in the 88th.

"There's a lot of disappointment because we were 2-1 up, but before the match maybe we would have signed up for a draw,'' Marseille coach Elie Baup said. "I'm disappointed for my players that we didn't win. You can have some regrets when you take the lead twice.''

Marseille is level with second-place Paris Saint-Germain, which has played a game less and hosts Lille on Sunday, and three points behind leader Lyon, which won 2-0 at Valenciennes on Friday.

Ironically, last weekend Marseille profited from a defensive error to score an injury-time winner against Montpellier, and just like the recent 3-1 defeat away to Sochaux, Marseille also conceded a goal from a set piece.

"That's our weak link. We marked all the players in the penalty area but one player makes a run from outside the area and is totally free,'' Baup said. "We have to start concentrating and working on set pieces again.''

Still, Baup thinks Marseille will benefit in the long run from playing the right way.

"We wanted to keep the ball on the ground, we have to repeat this kind of performance. It's encouraging for the future,'' Baup said. "We have to keep going, even if we're disappointed with the result.''

Rennes was in fourth place.

"It's not for nothing that they're where they are in the league, and they're in the League Cup final,'' Baup said. "They're fighting with us for a European place.''

Elsewhere, it was: Evian 1, Ajaccio 1; Montpellier 2, Sochaux 0; Nancy 2, Lorient 1; Reims 1, Toulouse 1, and Troyes 2, Brest 1.

Defending champion Montpellier bounced back from three straight defeats to move up to seventh place thanks to goals from striker Emmanuel Herrara and winger John Utaka.

Toulouse remains in mid-table after being pegged back by Grzegorz Krychowiak's goal after France midfielder Etienne Capoue opened the scoring.

Meanwhile, new signing Dennis Oliech scored for Ajaccio only for right back Daniel Wass to level for Evian.

Troyes, which is in 19th place, kept alive its hopes of avoiding relegation with only its third win of the season.

Midfielder Fabien Camus scored his fourth goal in the past three games to give Troyes the lead on halftime, and midfielder Stephane Darbion made it 2-0 before Eden Ben Basat pulled a goal back.

Last-place Nancy remains one point behind Troyes.

Paul Alo'o Efoulou put Nancy ahead, continuing his good form after scoring twice in midweek, but forward Jeremie Aliadiere equalized just after the break with his eighth league goal of the campaign. Center half Sebastien Pugrenier got Nancy's winner in the 71st.

Earlier, Mathieu Valbuena's delicate pass with the outside of his foot sent Andre Ayew sprinting through and he calmly clipped the ball under the body of goalkeeper Benoit Costil to give Marseille the lead in the 37th.

But Marseille was caught napping in the 58th and Theophile-Catherine was left unmarked to head into the top corner.

Valbuena helped create the second goal, releasing Morgan Amalfitano down the right and his cross was volleyed home at the back post by Jordan Ayew.

Substitute Abdoulaye Sane set up the equalizer with a surging run down the right, yet there appeared little danger as he pulled the ball back from a tight angle. But Mandanda let it slip through his fingers, it bounced back off the post and gave Alessandrini an easy header from three yards (meters) out.

"It was a great game, very intense. We were too shy in the first half, it was different in the second,'' Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti said. "We came out on top in terms of chances and the quality of our play, but Marseille has more experience and more maturity than us.''

Saint-Etienne faces Bastia and Nice hosts Bordeaux in Sunday's other games.

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