Marseille win to restore lead over PSG

Marseille maintained a four-point lead over PSG at the top of Ligue 1 after beating Lens on Sunday. The two bitter rivals will face each other in Paris next Sunday.

Marseille win to restore lead over PSG
Marseille's Florian Thauvin celebrates scoring the winner against Lens on Sunday. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Marseille restored their four-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday, beating Lens 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome despite a less than convincing display against their struggling visitors.

Nicolas Nkoulou headed Marcelo Bielsa's side into an early lead, but Lens drew level courtesy of Baptiste Guillaume and had chances to go in front themselves.

However, Florian Thauvin secured the points with his third league goal of the season on the hour-mark as Marseille got back to winning ways after suffering consecutive defeats in league and cup, holding on despite the late sending-off of Alaixys Romao.

With 28 points, OM are four clear of second-placed Paris Saint-Germain before they face their great rivals at the Parc des Princes in the biggest fixture in French football next Sunday.

A positive result in the capital against the defending champions would set them up for a sustained title challenge, but Bielsa will accept that his side need to play far better than they did against Lens if they are to take anything from PSG.

Nevertheless, the win meant it was a good finish to a difficult week for the south-coast club, who fell short of a club record ninth consecutive league win by losing at Lyon last weekend and were then eliminated from the League Cup at Rennes before a reported bust-up between Andre-Pierre Gignac and Brice Dja Djedje at the club's training ground hinted at divisions in the squad.

"Am I worried before the 'Clasico'? The match against Lyon was the best we have played this season, and tonight was not good," said Bielsa.

"I know what mistakes we made but I also know perfectly well the qualities of my team and what we are capable of doing."

Bielsa, who handed rare starts to Rod Fanni and Mario Lemina, saw his side strike early, as they have done on numerous occasions already this season.

The game was only 10 minutes old when a corner from the right was inadvertently helped on at the near post by Lens captain Jerome Le Moigne for Nkoulou to dive and head in.

Marseille had won every Ligue 1 game this season in which they had opened the scoring and few at that point anticipated a Lens comeback.

However, Antoine Kombouare's side, featuring six players aged 22 or under, including four teenagers, were not cowed and Benjamin Bourigeaud missed a chance to equalise before Guillaume did restore parity with a strike from inside the area after good work by Pablo Chavarria.

Indeed, Lens could have gone in front early in the second period, with Wylan Cyprien blazing over and Chavarria having an effort disallowed for offside.

But Marseille regained the initiative when a superb Dimitri Payet pass found Gignac, and Ligue 1's leading scorer turned provider as he cut the ball back for Thauvin to side-foot a shot into the roof of the net.

The dismissal of Romao left OM to play out the final 14 minutes of the game with 10 men and meant that Bielsa will have to do without him as well as Andre Ayew and Jeremy Morel against PSG.

But at least they held on to win the match, with goalkeeper Steve Mandanda making a crucial save to deny Yoann Touzghar in the fifth minute of added time.

Despite the defeat, Lens coach Kombouare said: "I never had any doubts about the quality of my players, about what they were capable of doing.

"We are disappointed, frustrated, but we have to congratulate Marseille for holding on."

Champions PSG came from behind to win 2-1 at Lorient on Saturday to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign while Lyon went clear in third with a 3-1 victory at Nice.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Bordeaux moved back up to fourth by beating local rivals Toulouse 2-1 for their first win in four league outings, Marc Planus and Diego Rolan scoring for Willy Sagnol's side.

Meanwhile, Nantes made it seven league games unbeaten as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Rennes in the Breton derby.


Nantes 1 v Rennes 1 

Bordeaux 2 v Toulouse 1

Marseille 2 v Lens 1

Monaco 1 v  Reims 1

Lorient 1 v Paris Saint-Germain 2 

Metz 3 v Caen 2

Montpellier 2 v Evian 0 

Nice 1 v Lyon 3 

Lille 1 v Saint-Etienne 1 

Guingamp 1 v Bastia 0

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.