PARIS (Reuters) - Mathieu Valbuena scored the only goal as Olympique Marseille consolidated second place in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at Lorient on Saturday in a game that ended in a mass brawl.
Valbuena fired in a loose ball from just outside the box in the 25th minute.
There were angry scenes at the final whistle after Fabien Audard slapped Valbuena in the face.
Lorient goalkeeper Audard and Andre Ayew of Marseille were sent off as tempers flared among both sets of players.
It was the 12th time Marseille recorded a 1-0 victory this season and it was also their seventh clean sheet in a row.
They have 64 points from 34 games, six behind leaders Paris St Germain who visit lowly Evian Thonon Gaillard on Sunday, and are looking good for the second Champions League spot next season.
Olympique Lyon, five points adrift in third position, host fourth-placed St Etienne (57 points) on Sunday.
"This is a very important weekend," Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda told Canal Plus television.
"At this stage of the season the most important thing is the three points and 1-0 is our favourite scoreline."
Playmaker Valbuena went close to scoring in the seventh minute when Audard palmed away his curling free kick from 25 metres.
The keeper shone again in the 23rd minute when he kept out a long-range effort from Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Audard was then beaten by a half-volley from Valbuena after he had parried an effort from Ayew into the path of the French international.
Lorient, seventh on 50 points, pushed for an equaliser in the second half but Mandanda stopped a powerful Maxime Barthelme strike in the 72nd minute and the woodwork denied the attacking midfielder a minute later. (Reporting by Gregory Blachier; editing by Tony Jimenez)