Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Late Gignac strike fires Marseille to crucial win

AFP, PARIS

Olympique de Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac scores against Montpellier Herault in their Ligue 1 match in Marseille, France, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

A stoppage-time strike by Andre-Pierre Gignac secured Olympique de Marseille three crucial points in their Ligue 1 title pursuit as they beat Montpellier Herault 3-2 on Saturday.

Andre Ayew had given Marseille the lead on 14 minutes, before Emanuel Herrera replied for the visitors.

John Utaka’s 56th-minute goal put a resurgent Montpellier on course for a fifth win in six matches, but Jordan Ayew leveled 11 minutes from time, before Gignac’s late intervention earned Elie Baup’s side a dramatic victory.

“I had a difficult match against two beasts at the back. It took only one [chance], which came at the end, [making it] even better for the team and the supporters,” Gignac said.

The result pushed Marseille to within one point of leaders Olympique Lyonnais, who were held to a goalless draw at home to Evian Thonon Gaillard on Friday, with archrivals Paris Saint-Germain lying third, three points off the pace, ahead of their trip to Girondins de Bordeaux yesterday.

Andre Ayew, available for selection after his omission from Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations squad, put Marseille ahead when he twisted to head Joey Barton’s cross beyond Geoffrey Jourdren.

The hosts’ lead was short-lived, though, as Emanuel Herrera hauled Montpellier level just three minutes later, running onto Utaka’s pass, before rounding goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and steering in from a tight angle.

Defending champions Montpellier, whose hopes of retaining their Ligue 1 crown were extinguished following a disastrous start to the campaign, appeared on track for a fifth win in six matches as Utaka stabbed home after latching onto Remy Cabella’s ball into the box, but Jordan Ayew turned in his brother’s low cross from close range to draw Marseille back on level terms, before Gignac capitalized on a defensive error by Daniel Congre to slot the ball beyond Jourdren in the first minute of stoppage-time.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Lorient jumped up to fourth following a 3-2 win at home to strugglers ES Troyes AC.

First-half efforts from Kevin Monnet-Paquet and Enzo Reale gave the hosts a two-goal lead, before Jeremie Brechet pulled one back for Troyes on 66 minutes. Gregory Bourillon then added a third for Lorient, while Fabien Camus netted a late consolation.

AS Saint-Etienne halted a sequence of six matches without a victory as Brandao’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 victory at Stade Brestois 29 for Christophe Galtier’s side, while a Franck Tabanou brace guided Toulouse past bottom club AS Nancy-Lorraine 2-1.

Adrian Mutu notched his fifth goal of the season for AC Ajaccio as the Corsicans drew 1-1 against Valenciennes, with Opa Nguette tallying his first senior goal.

Earlier, Sochaux-Montbeliard climbed out of the relegation zone following a controversial 1-0 victory at home to Stade de Reims that saw them maintain their perfect start to the year.

Loic Poujol forced the ball over the line from Rafael Dias’ corner on 15 minutes, with replays suggesting the midfielder pushed it in with his arm.

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