Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Bielsa sees Marseille edge late win

AFP, PARIS

Montpellier forward M’baye Niang, center, jumps past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, right, during their Ligue 1 match at the Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, France, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa, who is widely tipped to take charge at Olympique de Marseille, watched the struggling French giants clinch an 89th-minute winner for a 3-2 triumph at Montpellier Herault on Friday.

The 58-year-old Bielsa, who has previously coached Chile and Athletic Bilbao in Spain and is favorite to succeed the besieged Jose Anigo, took his seat at Montpellier 45 minutes before kick-off.

He then looked on as Marseille twice gave up a one-goal lead before going on to record their sixth away win of the season.

The three points kept them in sixth place in Ligue 1 on 51 points, the same as Olympique Lyonnais, who are to host leaders Paris Saint-Germain today.

They are still nine points off the final Champions League qualifying place for next season.

“We controlled the game and I think we deserved the win,” said Anigo, whose team was jeered by Marseille fans after last week’s win over AC Ajaccio at their Stade Velodrome home. “Tonight, we had a lot of players performing at a high level. We will savor tonight, we are still alive in the league. The aim was to find the pleasure in playing again.”

Marseille captain and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said he was unaware that Bielsa was watching from the sidelines.

“He was here? I didn’t know that,” Mandanda said. “He is passionate about the game and speaks his mind. But I don’t know if there’s anything official, so it’s hard to talk about it.”

Andre Ayew, who scored a hat-trick in Marseille’s 3-1 home win over Ajaccio last weekend, was denied by the woodwork before Mathieu Valbuena, with a clever lob, put Marseille ahead three minutes from halftime.

Montpellier, the 2012 champions who had made sure of their Ligue 1 status for next season with a 2-1 win at En Avant de Guingamp last week, were level after 48 minutes.

M’Baye Niang was the man on target after being set-up by Remy Cabella, who is to leave the club at the end of the campaign.

Marseille were back in front on the hour mark when top-scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac scored with a half-volley for his 14th league strike of the season with Dja Djedje creating the chance down the right wing.

Back came Montpellier for 2-2 after 78 minutes when Mandanda could only parry Cabella’s drive into the path of Morgan Sanson, who had come on as a substitute just two minutes earlier.

In the 89th minute Marseille substitute Dimitri Payet grabbed the winner with a shot that deflected off the foot of a defender and looped over the head of stranded goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren.

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