Marseille put PSG title party on ice

Marseille ensured champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait another week before they can clinch the Ligue 1 crown after beating Bastia 2-1 on Saturday.

  • Published: 5/05/2013 at 12:49 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

Marseille's midfielder Andre Pierre Gignac (C) scores a goal in front of Bastia's goalkeeper Mickael Landreau (L) during a French L1 football match at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southeastern France on May 4, 2013. Marseille ensured champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait another week before they can clinch the Ligue 1 crown after beating Bastia 2-1 on Saturday.

Andre-Pierre Gignac struck twice, either side of Florian Thauvin's equaliser just after half-time, to take his season's tally to 13 as Marseille closed the gap on leaders PSG, who host Valenciennes on Sunday, to six points with three games remaining.

Victory for Elie Baup's side stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches and saw them strengthen their grip on the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot after moving seven points of third-place Lyon, who travel to Nancy on Sunday.

"We were really sick that people were only talking about these 1-0 (victories)," Baup said, referring to the talk about the club's 12 wins by that scoreline this term.

"In this match we really showed we had opportunities to play, the fans weren't let down. Since the start we've always wanted to do that, we haven't always succeeded but today's match was a pretty complete one," added the Marseille coach.

A bright start from the hosts was punctuated by Gignac's 12th-minute opener as he turned inside Fethi Harek after being picked out by Mathieu Valbeuna before deftly clipping the ball over Mickael Landreau.

Lucas Mendes narrowly missed doubling Marseille's lead minutes later as he headed a Valbuena corner against the crossbar, while Gignac fired straight at Landreau after a poor clearance from the Bastia goalkeeper cannoned off Jordan Ayew into the France striker's path.

Gignac was again thwarted by Landreau after a bustling run that took him past Sylvain Marchal before the former Lille 'keeper scurried across his line to tip around an attempted pass that was inadvertently re-directed goalwards by Harek.

The frame of the goal again came to Bastia's rescue after Gignac volleyed an exquisite Valbuena cross against the bar just before half-time, and the visitors capitalised on their first-half fortune to level a minute after the break.

Rising star Thauvin, on loan from Lille, was afforded plenty of time as he collected the ball inside the centre circle with the 20-year-old winger advancing untroubled before unleashing a thunderous 25-yard strike beyond a helpless Steve Mandanda, halting his run without conceding a goal at 696 minutes.

Morgan Amalfitano squandered a golden opportunity to restore Marseille's lead just minutes later as his effort was brilliantly tipped over by Landreau.

Meanwhile Bastia, knowing a win would preserve their top-flight status, thought they had taken a 2-1 lead through Toifilou Maoulida only for his header to be correctly ruled out for offside before Julian Palmieri struck a venomous 25-yard volley narrowly wide of the post.

Modou Sougou appeared destined to net his first goal in Marseille colours after rounding Landreau on 67 minutes but Palmieri rushed back to make a critical block.

Jordan Ayew was then expertly repelled by the palm of Landreau as Marseille's frustration grew.

But Gignac had the final say nine minutes from time as he raced onto a ball from Valbuena down the right, burst past Palmieri and steered the ball coolly into the far corner.

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Writer: AFP
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