Olympique de Marseille missed the chance to close to within two points of Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Ligue 1 after slipping up 1-0 at Girondins de Bordeaux in Sunday’s late game.
Defender Cedric Yambere’s 61st-minute goal, less than a minute after coming off the bench, sank Marseille, now fourth, and dealt their title hopes a massive blow.
In a game dominated by the visitors, Michy Batshuayi had the ball in the back of the Bordeaux net with 15 minutes left, but the young Belgium forward’s effort was correctly flagged for offside.
Marseille have not triumphed at the Stade Chaban Delmas since 1977 and have picked up just four victories in 51 attempts against Bordeaux in the top flight.
With six games to go, the south coast side find themselves five points behind leaders PSG and four adrift of second-placed Olympique Lyonnais, with both teams having a game in hand.
“We’re in an uncomfortable situation, but we retain the strength to change that and we hope that our league table position will be what we deserve. We will fight for every point. Obviously we did not expect this slip-up and I don’t think we deserve to be out of the top three now,” Marseille coach Marcelon Bielsa said.
Bordeaux now sit on sixth and are in contention to qualify for the UEFA Europa League with their fourth win in the past five games.
Earlier on Sunday, there was a hint of nostalgia in Ligue 1 as AS Saint-Etienne beat Nantes 1-0, the two clubs having won 15 league titles between them in a 20-year stretch up to the early 1980’s.
On an afternoon of glorious sunshine, thousands of fans went bare-chested in the stands at a packed and boisterous Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, where Franck Tabanou’s thunderbolt free-kick on 18 minutes was enough to give three precious points to Europe-chasing Saint-Etienne.
Between 1964 and 1983, the two clubs won 15 titles between them, nine going to Saint Etienne — Marseille and AS Monaco got two each and RC Strasbourg the other — as they dominated the French scene.
Saint-Etienne are currently fifth and hoping for Europa League qualification, but to avoid disruptive early qualifying rounds in August they are targeting fourth position, which they managed to secure last season.
Nantes, for their part, have re-established themselves as a mid-table side after promotion two seasons ago, their last French title coming in 2001.
French football is on something of a high right now with PSG hosting Barcelona tomorrow in a glamor UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg after a “generational” victory over Chelsea in the last-16.
Meanwhile, Monaco are also in the last eight and travel to Italian giants Juventus today in confident mood having won their last four away games in Ligue 1 and beaten Arsenal in the last round.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the 19-year-old rookie striker Said Benrahma’s 4th minute strike was enough to give OGC Nice a 1-0 win at Stade de Reims, while Lille grabbed a 1-0 win at Evian Thonon Gaillard after a generously awarded penalty, converted by Sofiane Boufal. Relegation-threatened Toulouse won 1-0 at home over Montpellier Herault, bottom side Racing Club de Lens slugged out a 0-0 draw with Lorient, while in the Brittany derby Stade Rennais beat 10-man En Avant de Guingamp 1-0.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
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