Sun, May 03, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Centurion Gignac inspires Marseille with two goals

AFP, METZ, France

Olympique de Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their game against Metz at the the Stade Municipal Saint-Symphorien in Metz, France, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Andre-Pierre Gignac’s double fired Olympique de Marseille to a 2-0 win over relegation-bound Metz on Friday to boost the south coast giants’ prospects of competing in next season’s Champions League.

Gignac, out of contract at the end of the season, celebrated his 100th goal in the French top flight as the first half was drawing to a close, and then made inroads into his second century after the break.

Marseille had traveled north desperate to put a stop to a four-match losing streak.

And this timely change in fortunes moved them provisionally above AS Saint-Etienne on goal difference into fourth on 60 points, two points shy of AS Monaco occupying the third and final Champions League spot.

Coach Marcelo Bielsa was a relieved man, the Argentine saying: “It was really necessary to win here. While it’s still mathematically possible, we’ll retain hope of making third place.”

Seen as potential champions as recently as Christmas, Marseille’s Ligue 1 meltdown has been so dramatic that even lowly Metz were fancying their chances in the Friday night showdown.

However, Gignac, who on a busy night also picked up a yellow card for elbowing Metz defender Jeremy Choplin, put paid to that notion in style.

The in-form international striker had the visitors in control when pouncing on a mistake by Metz keeper Anthony Mfa, who dropped the ball he had caught safely with both hands off a corner after colliding with Metz defender Jose Luis Palomino.

A bungled attempt by Metz to avert the resulting danger ended up with Gignac turning deftly to shoot into an open goal with seven minutes of the first half to go.

He doubled up after the hour, Dimitri Payet the provider, to give Marseille renewed hope of a top-three finish.

Bielsa’s decision to start the 29-year-old in preference to the young Belgian Michy Batshuayi paid off handsomely.

For Metz, the loss at the Stade Municipal Saint-Symphorien left them second from bottom and almost certain to be relegated.

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