Mon, May 13, 2013 - Page 18 News List

LIGUE 1: Marseille defeat Toulouse to extend PSG’s title wait

AFP, PARIS

Olympique de Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac, center top, battles for the ball with Toulouse’s Serge Aurier, center bottom, in their Ligue 1 match at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Olympique de Marseille ensured Paris Saint-Germain would have to wait another 24 hours before securing the Ligue 1 crown after keeping their remote title hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over Toulouse on Saturday.

Andre Ayew returned from suspension to score twice at the Stade Velodrome, while Eden Ben Basat struck a late consolation as Marseille cut PSG’s lead at the summit to four points with the league leaders in action at Olympique Lyonnais yesterday.

“It wasn’t an easy victory against very good opponents this evening,” Marseille boss Elie Baup said.

“We’re going to try and finish second. We’re assured of finishing in the top three, which is already a step completed,” he added, a result that guarantees l’OM’s participation in next season’s UEFA Champions League. “Now we have to fight to make sure we come second.”

PSG could have clinched their first French championship since 1993-1994 without kicking a ball had Marseille lost to Toulouse, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side will finally end their title drought if they triumph at the Stade de Gerland.

Ayew breathed life into a rather uneventful first half with the opening goal just prior to the break as he headed a Mathieu Valbuena cross beyond the despairing dive of Toulouse goalkeeper Ali Ahamada.

Wissam Ben Yedder forced Steve Mandanda into a comfortable save shortly after the interval, but Toulouse then found themselves further behind when Ayew struck again on 62 minutes.

Moments after Morgan Amalfitano hit the post, the midfielder kept Andre-Pierre Gignac’s low ball across the face of goal in play, before unselfishly squaring for the Ghanaian to apply a simple finish and take his season’s tally to nine.

Serge Aurier cleared off the line after Gignac’s scuffed effort was helped goalwards by Ayew as Marseille sought to turn the screw, before the visitors grabbed a lifeline when Ben Basat drilled through the legs of Mandanda from a tight angle eight minutes from time.

Ayew’s brother, Jordan, almost added a third for the hosts in stoppage-time, but he curled just over as Marseille extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches and beat Toulouse at home for the first time since 2006.

Elsewhere, ES Troyes AC collected a vital three points in their fight to retain their top-flight status with a 1-0 victory at AC Ajaccio which moved them just one point from safety going into the final two weekends of the season.

AS Nancy-Lorraine battled back from a two-goal deficit at Girondins de Bordeaux, only to concede a late goal to Cheick Diabate in a 3-2 defeat that means they remain only one point clear of Evian Thonon Gaillard, who were hosting OGC Nice yesterday, and Troyes.

Meanwhile, basement club Stade Brestois 29 appeared all but doomed after a 2-0 reverse at home to Sochaux-Montbeliard — their ninth straight loss — left them six points adrift.

Elsewhere, SC Bastia preserved their Ligue 1 status with a 3-1 victory against Montpellier Herault, while Valenciennes romped to a 4-1 home win over nine-man Stade Rennais.

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