Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Relentless Marseille continue winning run


Olympique de Marseille forward Andre Ayew, right, vies for the ball with Saint-Etienne defender Francois Clerc during their game at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Olympique de Marseille made it six wins on the bounce on Sunday, beating AS Saint-Etienne 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome to end the weekend two points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side produced a typically high-octane performance in the first half and found themselves two goals ahead inside 28 minutes, Giannelli Imbula and Dimitri Payet both on target.

The tempo dropped in the second half and Jonathan Brison got one back for Saint-Etienne, but l’OM held on to make it three wins in the past eight days and six in a row, their longest winning streak since the start of the 2012-2013 campaign.

The latest success saw them reclaim first place from Girondins de Bordeaux, who had beaten Stade Rennais 2-1 earlier on Sunday, while stuttering champions Paris Saint-Germain are five points off the pace in fourth.

Bielsa named an unchanged side following the 5-0 victory against Reims last week, while the visitors made several changes, having drawn at home with Bordeaux.

The hosts looked the fresher of the two teams and got off to the perfect start, Imbula collecting a Brice Dja Djedje pass, controlling and then lashing a shot into the bottom-left corner.

Payet, a former Saint-Etienne winger, then came close on two separate occasions before finding the net shortly before the half-hour mark, stroking the ball home from just inside the box after Andre Ayew had stolen possession from Francois Clerc.

Marseille could not maintain the same level of intensity and Brison reduced the arrears on 53 minutes with a sweetly struck half-volley.

Nevertheless, the hosts held on and Andre-Pierre Gignac, scorer of eight goals already this season, was only denied another by a good Stephane Ruffier save late on.

Saint-Etienne have still not won at the Stade Velodrome since 1979, when Michel Platini and Johnny Rep were in their side.

Bordeaux were inspired by youngster Thomas Toure as they got the better of Rennes at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Toure set up Wahbi Khazri to put Les Girondins ahead in the second half and then curled in a magnificent winning goal in the third minute of added time after Habib Habibou had leveled for Rennes in the 80th minute.

“The players never gave up. They were cooked at the end, but they kept looking for the winner into the final minutes,” delighted Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol said.

Elsewhere, Olympique Lyonnais made it four games unbeaten, but threw away the lead in a 1-1 draw away to Nantes at the Stade de la Beaujoire Louis-Fonteneau.

Burkina Faso defender Bakary Kone headed in Alexandre Lacazette’s free-kick to put OL ahead six minutes into the second half, but he then shoved Georges-Kevin Nkoudou to the ground inside the box, allowing Jordan Veretout to level from the penalty spot.

Sunday’s other game saw Racing Club de Lens draw 0-0 with fellow promoted club Stade Malherbe Caen at their temporary home in Amiens.

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