Marseille win to ensure top spot at Christmas

Marseille will end the year on top of Ligue 1 after beating Lille on Sunday. Marcelo Bielsa's team finish the first half of the season three points ahead of rivals PSG and two ahead of Lyon. Here's a round-up of all the latest action from Ligue 1

Marseille win to ensure top spot at Christmas
Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa celebrates after his team scores against Lille on Sunday. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi scored the winner as Marseille beat Lille 2-1 on Sunday to ensure that they will top the table at Christmas ahead of Lyon, who hammered Bordeaux 5-0.

Batshuayi secured OM's ninth consecutive home victory, their most impressive run of results at the Stade Velodrome since 1990/91, after Idrissa Gueye had cancelled out the Nolan Roux own-goal which gave the home side the lead.

Marseille, who were last crowned champions in 2010, take the symbolic title of 'Autumn Champion' by a margin of two points from Lyon, who continued their impressive form by destroying Bordeaux on Sunday evening.

OL leapfrog reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are three points off the pace in third after a 0-0 draw with Montpellier on Saturday, with Saint-Etienne in fourth after beating Evian 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.

Batshuayi, who had only been used as a substitute in the league since signing from Standard Liege in the summer, was given the nod by coach Marcelo Bielsa after Dimitri Payet was dropped for an alleged lack of effort in training.

And the Belgian Under-21 international seized his chance in a game watched by a record Velodrome attendance of 62,048 spectators.

"I was especially eager for us to win this game because for five months these players have put in so much effort, so to finish with a deserved victory at home is their reward," said Bielsa, who dismissed talk of a bust-up with Payet.

The France winger had been Marseille's in-form player in recent weeks before surprisingly being sent away on his Christmas holidays early.

"Nothing in particular happened. I simply decided to choose another player today and I didn't think it was necessary for him to be in the squad of 18."

The hosts opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Roux, in attempting to clear a Florian Thauvin corner, only succeeded in helping the ball into his own net.

Andre Ayew had a shot cleared off the line by Simon Kjaer before Gueye escaped without even a booking after catching Mario Lemina in the face with an arm.

The Senegal international made the most of his good fortune by levelling just after the hour mark with a shot from the edge of the area that beat Steve Mandanda in goal with the aid of a deflection.

However, the hosts sent the massed ranks of Marseille fans — many in Santa hats — into ecstasy in the 69th minute as Batshuayi turned his marker and let fly with a right-footed effort that gave Enyeama no chance.

"I owe a great debt to the coach for showing his faith in me and giving me the starting role," said Batshuayi, 21.

"This is a club dear to my heart and when I scored the goal I let out all the emotion I have had cooped up inside me since I joined. I think I have taken a step forward today."

Lacazette leads Lyon 

Meanwhile, Lyon made it four league wins in a row to move above Paris as they outclassed 10-man Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, led by the in-form Lacazette.

Ligue 1's leading scorer smashed home six minutes before half-time to set Lyon on their way and rounded off a stunning victory in the last minute to take his tally for the campaign to 17 goals.

In between, Corentin Tolisso scored early in the second half before Bordeaux were reduced to 10 men when Nicolas Pallois was sent off for chopping down Clinton Njie, and Nabil Fekir and Jordan Ferri added further goals as the hosts capitulated.

Earlier, Saint-Etienne continued their excellent league form by easing to victory at home to struggling Evian.

Max Gradel opened the scoring in the second minute before Romain Hamouma set up Ricky van Wolfswinkel to score his fifth league goal of the campaign.

Hamouma then cut inside two defenders before arrowing a left-foot shot from the edge of the box into the top corner in the second half.

Les Verts are now unbeaten in 10 Ligue 1 games and have gone six matches without even conceding a goal, while Evian end the year in the relegation zone.

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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.