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Kalou helps Lille back on track in French title race

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PARIS - Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou snapped his eight-match scoring drought in style as he struck twice to help Lille to a 2-1 win over Bastia and back into French soccer's Ligue 1 title race.

The 2012 Champions League winner, who was Lille's top scorer last season with 16 goals, took his tally this season to five with a brace of first-half strikes that ultimately downed the Corsican visitors.

Ludovic Genest gave Bastia a stunning start when he hit the target after only three minutes with a long-distance volley that flew past Lille's African champion goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

However Rene Girard's men refused to buckle and took an important stride towards their 12th win in 18 matches when Kalou scored twice in five minutes.

The first was a dipping shot on 17 minutes from outside the box that left Bastia's keeper Mickael Landreau — the record-holder for Ligue 1 appearances — flapping, before he blasted another missile past the former Nantes and PSG custodian moments later.

Earlier, Bordeaux continued their rich vein of form with a come-from-behind 2-1 home win over third-from-bottom Valenciennes.

The visitors took the lead 10 minutes inside the second half through Mali midfielder Tongo Doumbia, before in-form Brazilian Jussie equalised from the penalty spot three minutes later.

The hero for the Girodins was Frenchman Nicolas Maurice-Belay who grabbed the decisive goal with 17 minutes remaining to lift his side into temporary possession of fifth spot.

Later on Sunday, Marseille's caretaker coach Jose Anigo takes his struggling former champions to Lyon for his first domestic match after their 2-1 Champions League home reverse against Borussia Dortmund midweek.

On Sunday, leaders Paris Saint-Germain coasted past Rennes 3-1 and second-placed Monaco kept pace with an equally comfortable 2-0 win at Guingamp.

PSG lead their Cote d'Azur rivals by two points with Lille two further back after 18 matches and just one more fixture before the winter break.

Fourth-placed Nantes crumbled 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Sunday, Nice kept Sochaux at the bottom with a 1-0 home win and Lorient defeated Ajaccio 2-1 in Corsica.