Reims and Rennes drop points in the French league chase for a European place

PARIS (AP) — Reims and Rennes lost their French league games on Saturday and dropped vital points in the race for European places next season.

Reims fell at Strasbourg 3-1 and remained in seventh spot while Rennes stayed ninth following a 2-1 home loss against Toulouse with five games left.

Reims led early through Japan forward Keito Nakamura, but veteran striker Kevin Gameiro equalized with a penalty just before halftime. Defender Abakar Sylla netted shortly after the break and substitute Moïse Sahi Dion scored an injury-time goal for coach Patrick Vieira’s side.

In the late game, 18-year-old midfielder Désiré Doué’s angled shot put Rennes ahead after 20 minutes. Venezuela midfielder Cristian Casseres equalized within two minutes and Mali defender Moussa Diarra gave Toulouse the advantage 10 minutes later.

Tempers frayed near the end when Toulouse goalkeeper Guillaume Restes tumbled to the floor following a high challenge, and players from each side started shoving.

A few hours before the match, a violent street battle took place between hooligans from each side numbering around 150-200 people in total, resulting in minor injuries. French media reports said one Toulouse fan needed hospital treatment for a head trauma.

Rennes and Toulouse have a longstanding fan rivalry.

Online images showed a larger group from Rennes charging at their counterparts waiting for them down the road. There were no police present, suggesting the fight was pre-arranged at a set location away from the stadium.

There have been numerous incidents of fan violence in France this season, from street clashes to the buses of visiting fans being pelted with objects after games.

League leader Paris Saint-Germain was not playing this weekend as it prepares to face Barcelona on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

Second-placed Brest can trim PSG’s lead to seven points by winning at Lyon on Sunday.


AP soccer:

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