Strootman strikes late as OM keep the pace

Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Stade Rennes vs Olympique de Marseille - Roazhon Park, Rennes, France - January 10, 2020 Olympique de Marseille's Kevin Strootman celebrates scoring their first goal with Valere Germain and Dimitri Payet as Stade Rennes' Adrien Hunou, Hamari Traore and teammates react REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PARIS (Reuters) - Olympique de Marseille kept up a slim chance of challenging Paris St Germain for the Ligue 1 title when second-half substitute Kevin Strootman's late goal earned them a 1-0 win at Stade Rennais on Friday.

Dutch midfielder Strootman struck with six minutes left to put OM on 41 points from 20 games, four behind leaders PSG who have two games in hand and will host Monaco on Sunday.

Rennes stayed third on 33 points from 19 matches.

In a dull first half, Marseille had the best chance when Alvaro Gonzalez's strike hit Edouard Mendy's post while the hosts threatened through Benjamin Bourigeaud.

The Rennes striker forced Steve Mandanda to fully stretch for a decisive save on the hour mark as OM, with strikers Dario Benedetto and Nemanja Radonjic struggling, were on the back foot after the break.

But in the 84th minute, Mendy parried Dimitri Payet's 25-metre free kick into the path of Strootman, who fired home to give Marseille their eighth victory in their last nine league games, two minutes after replacing Valentin Rongier.

It capped another decent defensive performance by Andre Villas Boas's side, who have not conceded more than one goal in a game since being thrashed 4-0 by PSG on Oct. 27.

Rennes have now failed to beat Marseille in their last five Ligue 1 encounters.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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