Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Gignac winning goal gives Marseille five-point lead

AFP, PARIS

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored a dramatic 93rd-minute winner as Marseille extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to five points after defeating Caen 2-1 on Saturday.

The match appeared to be heading for a draw before Gignac drove home a loose ball from inside the box in the dying moments, to take his league leading scoring tally to nine goals from nine matches.

It was also the seventh straight victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s side and put them into a healthy position ahead of yesterday’s showdown between champions Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

“The equalizer we conceded at the end of the match was cause for doubt, but the team always believed right till the final minute and we were able to make the difference,” Bielsa said.

“The victory was difficult, but we created a lot of chances and we got there in the end,”

In other matches on Saturday, Evian climbed out of the relegation zone with three second-half goals to defeat promoted Metz 3-0.

Nice scored in the 94th minute to hold 2012 champions Montpellier 1-1 in the south coast derby, while Claude Makelele’s Bastia sank into the bottom three after crashing 2-0 at home to Lorient.

Finally, Rennes moved into the upper half of the table with a 2-0 home win that left Lens third from bottom.

Caen came into their match against Marseille with the worst home record in the French top flight, having already lost three times at their Stade Michel D’Ornano, but they were unfortunate to suffer defeat.

“It was a difficult match and congratulations to them (Caen) because we were a bit lucky,” said Gignac, who was recalled to the France team this week for upcoming friendlies against Portugal and Armenia.

“We showed that we’re a big club and on the goal, I was just trying to control it and hit the target. It’s a big three points for us,” the 28-year-old added.

Togo international Alaixys Romao sent a glancing header that deflected in off the unfortunate Caen ‘keeper Remy Vercoutre with 15 minutes left to give Marseille the initiative, but the lead only held up briefly.

Caen thought they had an equalizer one minute later when a free kick from the right flank was headed past Steve Mandanda by Damien Da Silva, but the linesman ruled out the effort with a disputable offside decision.

However, with six minutes left from a similar set-piece, Caen deservedly equalized when Gabon defender Yronda Musavu-King towered above the Marseille back four and planted a header past the static Mandanda.

Then came Gignac’s heroics following some sustained pressure from the visitors and three valuable points for Marseille in the title race.

Former Lyon ‘keeper Vercoutre was the main reason Marseille were unable to open the scoring earlier, as the 34-year-old pulled off a string of fine saves to deny the visitors.

Gignac was denied by the Caen number one while Ghanaian international Andre Ayew, Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet also peppered the home goal as Marseille fired in 12 first-half shots.

Second-placed Bordeaux slumped to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Reims on Friday, their second defeat in nine outings.

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