Ayews keep Marseille on track
By S. Willis
A strike from each Ayew brother - André (21') and Jordan (52') - was enough to defeat Caen 2-1 in Normandy, OM's third win in four league outings taking them to provisional seventh place.
It seems the 3-0 Clasico win over PSG at the weekend was just the fillip Didier Deschamps' men needed, and thanks to a star turn from Morgan Amalfitano - coupled with the scoring skills of the Ayew brothers - OM managed to make the most of a performance that saw them pick up where they left off against their arch-rivals on Sunday.
Faced with a confident Caen side looking to get back to winning ways in front of a capacity crowd at the Stade Michel d'Ornano, Marseille took the game to their Norman hosts, making the break despite Caen's incisive movement and despite the absence of injured club top scorer Loïc Rémy.
In fact, Rémy's replacement Morgan Amalfitano was outstanding on the right wing, raking the ball around Alexandre Raineau and lashing a shot towards the near post. Alexis Thébaux stopped the initial effort, but his punch sent the ball straight into the path of Ghana star André Ayew, who volleyed home calmly (21').
Frau on the spot
Caen were level before two minutes were up, however, Pierre-Alain Frau side-footing a superb penalty past Mandanda (23') after the OM 'keeper was adjudged to have fouled Livio Nabib in trying to take the ball from him after hand-ball had been called.
So Caen, winless in their previous two matches, looked to have punctured OM's early verve to get back into the match, and it seemed that the Normans could hope for at least a draw as the sides continued attacking at a frantic pace for the rest of the first half.
... and then Jordan
Marseille had the edge, however, in terms of swift counter-attacking, and regained their lead with a lightning incursion as André Ayew released Souleymane Diawara on the right hand side of the area, the Senegal international squaring the ball first time for Jordan Ayew in the box to side-foot home past a helpless Thébaux (52').
Caen, completely uninhibited by the set-back - and by the calibre of their opponents - reacted strongly, with Thomas Heurtaux (53'), Grégory Proment (59') and Nabab (62') getting into dangerous positions but losing out with the final ball, as did Benoît Cheyrou (66') as OM began to put a lid on Caen's lively response.
Close but no cigar for Amalfitano
Out-of-sorts Marseille star Lucho Gonzalez seemed to enjoy playing in the engine room of an OM side showing much more vigour and commitment than at the start of the season and delivered an encouraging display, but it was Amalfitano who stole the show with an uncontainable performance on the right-hand side of attack.
The ex-Lorient man came close to bagging a clinching third goal for his side with a mazing solo run and cheeky attempted back-heel finish, but perhaps could have done better with André-Pierre Gignac - back in the first-team after a bust-up with Deschamps following OM's loss to Olympiacos - unmarked in the middle of the box.
In the end though, Caen couldn't find a way to make Marseille regret their missed chances, and Didier Deschamps's men climbed to provisional seventh place - four points off third - as they head into a make-or-break Champions League clash in Dortmund on Tuesday. Meanwhile Caen remain in provisional tenth place ahead of the rest of the weekend's matches.