PARIS — Lyon withstood a late onslaught from Caen and moved to second place in the French league with a 2-1 win at the Normandy side on Sunday.

Maxwel Cornet and Mariano Diaz scored for the seven-time champions, who bounced back from a midweek home loss to Lille with a hard-fought victory.

Lyon trails leader Paris Saint-Germain by nine points, and has scored 17 goals and conceded just one in its last four away matches.

Cornet put the visitors ahead in the 10th minute from close range at the end of a fine team move, following a mix-up in the box. Diaz made it 2-0 with his 12th goal this season after Ronny Rodelin gave the ball away outside his own penalty area. Memphis Depay intercepted the ball and Diaz volleyed home from the edge of the box in the 54th.

That ignited a strong response from Caen, which hit the post in the second half and pulled one back through Ivan Santini in the 90th. The Croatia striker dribbled past two Lyon players and fired home at the near post with a low shot.

Caen laid siege to the Lyon goal in stoppage time and substitute Jordan Nkololo almost grabbed an equalizer but saw his right-footed shot go inches wide.


MISSED CHANCE FOR MARSEILLE

Facing the best defense in the league, Marseille was lucky to salvage a point from its trip to Montpellier with a 1-1 draw.

Rudi Garcia’s players created only a few chances against a well-organized, five-man defense.

Marseille leveled from the spot after being handed a soft penalty, and Montpellier had a goal disallowed in the 87th minute.

Marseille, which missed the chance to move to second place, conceded near the half-hour mark when the unmarked Giovanni Sio beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a powerful shot.

Referee Frank Schneider awarded a penalty for an innocuous-looking foul on Marseille’s Morgan Sanson by Nordi Mukiele on the stroke of halftime. Florian Thauvin converted from the spot for his eighth league goal this season.

Marseille played better toward the end of the second half. Valere Germain missed a good chance to put the visitors ahead with a well-taken shot that produced a good save from Benjamin Lecomte.

Souleymane Camara thought he had scored the winner with three minutes left when he headed home a free kick but another Montpellier player was ruled offside in the buildup to the goal.

Marseille moved level on points with Lyon and Monaco but has a worse goal difference than its rivals.


SAINT-ETIENNE HELD

Saint-Etienne failed to win for a seventh straight French league game as the 10-time champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Nantes on Sunday, despite a superb goal from Vincent Pajot.

Chasing a first win since October, Saint-Etienne struggled to string passes together in the first half and broke the deadlock against the run of play when Pajot fired a 30-meter (yard) strike into the top left corner.

The game was played in a partly closed stadium following incidents that marred Saint-Etienne’s defeat to rival Lyon last month.

Nantes continued its dominance after the interval and tested Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier several times. Emiliano Sala scored a lucky but deserved equalizer in the 61st minute for his fifth goal this season when Leo Lacroix’s attempted clearance ricocheted off his leg and head before crossing the line as Ruffier watched powerless.

Nantes pushed hard in the closing stages but substitutes Santy Ngom and Lucas Lima had their efforts saved by Ruffier.

Nantes has not won in Saint-Etienne in 17 years and remained fifth in the standings, 14 points behind leader PSG.

Saint-Etienne is four points above the relegation zone.