Jordan Ayew scored early in the second half as Olympique de Marseille beat 10-man LOSC Lille Metropole 1-0 at home on Sunday to move level on points with Ligue 1 leaders and archrivals Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.
Ayew headed home Mathieu Valbuena’s cross in the 46th minute after Lille had been reduced to 10 men following Florent Balmont’s dismissal on the stroke of halftime.
Marseille have 26 points from 13 games and trail Paris Saint-Germain on goal-difference after the Qatar-backed club, who have played 14 matches, demolished ES Troyes AC 4-0 on Saturday.
L’OM will play their game in hand tomorrow at Olympique Lyonnais, who missed out on top spot when they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Toulouse on Sunday.
“Even when down to 10, Lille managed to keep the ball and make it hard for us,” Marseille coach Elie Baup told French TV channel Canal Plus.
“For quite some time we were playing very well without being rewarded. Tonight, we finally managed to convert one of our chances,” he said.
The goalkeepers were the first to shine with Steve Mandanda pulling off a brilliant save to parry Marvin Martin’s attempt in the eighth minute. After 13 minutes, Mickael Landreau denied Ayew, Mathieu Valbuena and Benoit Cheyrou in a packed goalmouth from close range.
On his Ligue 1 debut for Marseille after serving the rest of a English Premier League 12-match ban, Joey Barton, on loan from Queens Park Rangers, picked up a yellow card following his first tackle midway through the first half.
Mandanda pulled off another jaw-dropping save from a powerful Dimitri Payet downward header shortly before the interval, just before Balmont was sent off for a foul on Mathieu Valbuena as the France international forward was running through on goal.
Just one minute into the second half, Valbuena broke down the left flank and his cross was met by Ayew, who made it 1-0.
Marseille were then content to keep Lille at bay and Mandanda spared their blushes again when he blocked Nolan Roux’s shot from inside the box after the forward had outpaced the defense.
Earlier, Wissam Ben Yedder ended Toulouse’s three-match losing run when he inspired a 3-0 home win over Lyon.
The home side dominated throughout and were rewarded for their efforts five minutes into the second half when Ben Yedder headed home at the far post from Franck Tabanou’s cross.
Ben Yedder put the result beyond doubt at the end of a sharp counterattack three minutes from the end with Etienne Capoue rounding things off in stoppage-time.
Earlier, Girondins de Bordeaux also missed out on an opportunity to go top when they lost 1-0 at Montpellier Herault, who had drawn their last three league games 1-1.
It was midfielder Remy Cabella who ended the hosts’ winless streak when he collected a long pass from Romain Pitau, before firing a low shot past Cedric Carrasso in the 68th minute to put Montpellier into 12th place.
Bordeaux came close in the first half, but midfielder Nicolas Maurice-Belay wasted several good chances.
The Aquitaine side are fifth.