Marseille get back to winning ways
Marseille put their recent patchy form behind them to beat Saint-Etienne 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome in Ligue 1 on Tuesday evening.
After a fine start to the season, OM had gone four matches without a win in all competitions before hosting Les Verts.
However, Saint-Etienne had not won in Marseille since August 1979, when Michel Platini was among the scorers, and their miserable record in the fixture was extended as they failed to fully recover from the concession of two first-half goals.
Elie Baup’s side came flying out of the blocks and opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Benjamin Mendy connected first-time with a Mathieu Valbuena cross from the right, his shot bouncing over the stranded Stephane Ruffier and into the net.
The young full-back’s first Ligue 1 goal was followed by a first top-flight goal for midfielder Giannelli Imbula four minutes later.
Imbula slotted low past Ruffier from a Rod Fanni cross at the end of a fine Marseille move, to leave Saint-Etienne facing a second straight defeat already.
The visitors were handed a lifeline just after the half-hour mark when Alaixys Romao was harshly adjudged to have handled a Yohan Mollo cross right on the edge of the area and Faouzi Ghoulam stepped up to slot the penalty past Steve Mandanda in goal.
However, they could not find an equaliser, and might have lost by more goals, with Ruffier notably saving twice from Valbuena before the interval.
“After they came back to 2-1 we found things a bit more complicated,” admitted Baup, speaking to Canal Plus television after the game.
“But we have played well since the start of season, even in losing to Monaco and Arsenal, and we were rewarded tonight.”
The win takes Marseille above Saint-Etienne and provisionally into second place in the table, behind leaders Monaco on goal difference before the unbeaten principality club play host to Bastia on Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lille followed up their weekend 2-0 win at Sochaux with a convincing 3-0 home victory against Evian.
Salomon Kalou’s neat back-flick turned a Florent Balmont shot into the net to give Lille an early lead in France’s far north, and the unfortunate Jesper Hansen then scored an own-goal 32 minutes in.
The Danish goalkeeper, who was making his Ligue 1 debut, did well to tip a Nolan Roux header onto the bar, but the ball then richocheted off him and into the net to make it 2-0.
Ronny Rodelin then took advantage of poor defending to seal the victory in the second half.
Among the other games on Wednesday, defending champions Paris Saint-Germain, who trail the leaders by two points, go to struggling Valenciennes without captain Thiago Silva, who faces six weeks out with a thigh injury.