Mon, Feb 09, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Marseille blow chance to be French best

AFP, PARIS

Rennes’ Pedro Henrique, right, vies with Marseille’s Giannelli Imbula for control of the ball during their French Ligue 1 match at the Route de Lorient stadium in Rennes, France, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Olympique de Marseille stretched their undefeated run at Stade Rennes to seven games on Saturday, but a labored 1-1 draw meant they squandered the chance to go top in France.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side are one point behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais, who were scheduled to tackle champions and third-placed Paris Saint-Germain in the weekend’s standout fixture yesterday.

In a depressing summary of Marseille’s afternoon, they finished the game in Brittany with 10 men after Mario Lemina was red-carded in the 83rd minute for a foul on Ola Toivonen.

Swedish striker Toivonen was a thorn in Marseille’s side all afternoon.

The 28-year-old gave Rennes the lead after 26 minutes, smartly chesting down a loose ball to score past Steve Mandanda in the visitors’ goal.

Marseille were saved when Lucas Ocampos, the Argentine signed on loan from AS Monaco in the last moments of the transfer window, found the net in the 59th minute after coming on as a half-time substitute.

“The match was equal. We started well without making an impression,” Bielsa said.

“In the second half of the first period we lost possession. We couldn’t attack and we suffered in defense,” added Bielsa.

“Our attitude was better in the second half, as was the team’s production. We could have made the most of it after our goal, but the red card put the brakes on the way we wanted to play,” Bielsa said.

PSG yesterday were scheduled to have a chance to reclaim the top spot.

It is a tough assignment for Laurent Blanc’s men, but they were boosted by a 1-0 win over LOSC Lille Metropole in midweek that took them into the French League Cup final.

“It’s not a final, but it could be the turning point of the season,” midfielder Blaise Matuidi said.

“We’ve got a lot of avenues open to us and we want to do well in all the different competitions,” Matuidi said.

Lyon are on an eight-match unbeaten run, having only dropped points at Monaco.

However, just as they did in the principality, Lyon will have to do without their top scorer Alexandre Lacazette (21 league goals).

The French international has not played since injuring his thigh in the 2-0 win over Metz last month.

Elsewhere on Saturday, hosts Stade Malherbe Caen defeated Toulouse 2-0.

At the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, AS Saint-Etienne tied 3-3 against visitors Racing Club de Lens.

Girondins de Bordeaux took a 1-0 away win against Evian Thonon Gaillard in Thonon-les-Bains.

In Montpellier, hosts Montpellier Herault suffered a 2-1 loss against Lille.

Lorient secured a 3-1 victory over hosts Stade de Reims.

Hosts SC Bastia scored a 2-0 win against Metz in Corsica.

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