Ayew and Rémy see off Nice
By D. Crossan
Marseille were made to fight hard for a 2-0 home win over Nice, their third Ligue 1 victory in a row. Substitute Jordan Ayew and Loïc Rémy, with a cheeky retaken penalty against his former club, were on the scoresheet.
Marseille climbed a place to eighth with the victory and, with none of the top six winning this weekend, have now closed to within six points of champions Lille, who currently fill the third and final Champions League position.
The Stade Vélodrome's excellent drainage and heroic work from the groundstaff ensured the game got the go-ahead at the final pitch inspection two hours before kick-off.
The match began at breakneck pace with Mathieu Valbuena heading over from a Jérémy Morel cross and André-Pierre Gignac, in his first Ligue 1 start since last season's Week 32 4-2 home win over Nice, twice testing Nice's Colombian international goalkeeper David Ospina.
Nice hit bar twice
Loïc Rémy also failed to find the target with a header before Fabrice Abriel, on his return to the club he left in the summer, struck the bar with a shot after a cutback from the lively Eric Mouloungui. Gabonese international Mouloungui had scored three goals in his previous four games and, marauding across the frontline, was giving the home rearguard a torrid time. Mouloungui also struck the woodwork with a header from an Anthony Mounier corner on the half-hour.
Nice had lost 16 of their last 17 visits to the Vélodrome but, under the orders of former OM player Eric Roy, they gave it a real go, determined to approach this away game as they would a home fixture.
After an incident-packed opening period the second half began in calmer fashion with half-chances coming and going for Gignac, Mouloungui and Rémy. OM coach Didier Deschamps replaced a tiring Gignac with Jordan Ayew on the hour and it proved a masterstroke. Jordan Ayew had been on target against Nice in the 4-2 win last season, with his elder sibling André netting a hat-trick, and needed only 11 minutes on the field to break the deadlock.
Jordan Ayew and Rémy make the difference
Benoît Cheyrou clipped a ball forward to the right edge of the area, Rémy nudged Nemanja Pejcinovic off the ball and crossed for the unmarked Ayew to head confidently beyond Ospina. It was Ayew's first goal of the season and only the fourth of his young Ligue 1 career.
Franck Dja Djedjé had a golden chance to equalise seven minutes from time only to be thwarted by a stunning stop from Steve Mandanda. André Ayew headed straight at Ospina as he tried to make the points safe but that was not to be the Ghanaian international's final influential moment.
Deep into added time Ayew surged into the area and was tripped by Drissa Diakité. Rémy, against the club he top scored for in both 08-09 and 09-10, took on the responsibility. Despite Ospina getting a hand to his first effort, the ball found the back of the net. Yet the referee ordered a retake for encroachment by André Ayew. Rémy more than kept his nerve with a Panenka chipped finish to put the seal on the win.
OM have a vitally important week after the international break with a trip to second-placed Montpellier, a Champions League game against Olympiakos, and then the clasico at the Vélodrome against Paris Saint-Germain. Nice are out of the relegation zone purely on goal difference.