Marseille close on Lille


PARIS – Defending French champions Marseille fought back from behind to win 2-1 at Montpellier on Sunday and close to within a single point of faltering league leaders Lille. Lyon’s title hopes took a blow, however, as they were thwarted by Paris Saint-Germain, who beat them 1-0 to close to within a point of their third-placed opponents and rivals for the final Champions League qualifying place. Lille’s 1-1 draw at home to Bordeaux on Saturday had given Marseille the opportunity to pile the pressure on and they prevailed through a second-half Taye Taiwo penalty after both sides had seen a man sent off.
“It was a victory with heart, which wasn’t easy because Montpellier defended very well,” said Marseille coach Didier Deschamps. “With 25 minutes to go, all the media would have said that we were losers. Twenty-five minutes later, we’re in the race.” In bright sunshine, a dour game sprang to life in the 64th minute when the hosts took the lead, Olivier Giroud slamming the ball into the bottom-left corner after a purposeful run from Joris Marveaux. Marseille have made a habit of grinding out results this season, however, and they drew level with a goal of beautiful simplicity five minutes later. Benoit Cheyrou picked out Andre-Pierre Gignac with a raking 60-yard pass and the former Toulouse striker calmly lifted the ball over the advancing Geoffrey Jourdren with the inside of his right foot.
The visitors continued to press and in the 78th minute they were awarded a penalty when Loic Remy was held back by Abdelhamid El Kaoutari as he attempted to latch on to a rebound after Jourdren saved from Andre Ayew. Remy saw red for needlessly lashing out at El Kaoutari in the melee that followed, while El Kaoutari was also sent off after receiving a second yellow card.