Barton inspires OM to Brest win
Joey Barton produced two assists to help Olympique de Marseille end Stade Brestois 29's unbeaten run at home and move up to second in the table behind Lyon.
Stade Brestois 29 1-2 Olympique de Marseille
After their humbling at home against Lyon midweek Marseille were looking to bounce back and keep up with the Gerland outfit at the top of the table. However, having never won in nine previous trips to western Brittany Brest has never been a happy hunting ground for OM. That coupled with Brest's unbeaten record at home this season suggested it might be a tough afternoon for Elie Baup's side.
The visitors started well and some good play from the Ayew brothers saw André come close but his effort was just off target (15'). That, though, set the tone as OM laid siege to the home goal, Joey Barton came close with a free kick (28') before Romain Amalfitano caused some nervous moments in the home dugout when he surged onto a Mathieu Valbuena flick before lashing his shot wide (32').
Such was Marseille's ascendency only the most one-eyed Brest fan would have denied that they deserved the opener when it came. Barton was the creator; after finding some space on the left hand side the Englishman looked up and picked out Souleymane Diawara and the former Le Havre, Sochaux and Bordeaux man did the rest to score his first goal of the season (35'). It was also Barton's first assist in any football since December 2011. Valbuena and Amalfitano had further chances to double the lead but Alexis Thébaux was up to the challenge to keep Brest in the game.
Then on a rare foray up the other end of the park the hosts drew level. It was as scrappy a goal as they come, not that that would have concerned Dutch striker Charlison Benschop after he scored his second of the season following a goalmouth scramble. OM would have been disappointed to concede given that it was Brest's only chance of a first half dominated by the visitors.
Barton takes control
Barton, who was enjoying a good game, came close to scoring his first goal for OM just moments into the second half only to be denied by the outstretched boot of Thébaux.
As they did in the first half OM started strongly and again they were rewarded for their positive play. Barton picked up a fine ball from Valbuena and caught Thébaux in two minds before sliding it across to André Ayew who had the simplest of tasks to regain the lead (57').
The game then lost some of its intensity and OM appeared content with shutting out Brest rather than adding to their score. It nearly proved to be an unwise tactic to adopt when Benoît Lesoimier let fly from fully 30 metres but Steeve Mandanda (a spectator for much of the game) turned it away for a corner (77').
Up the other end Jordan Ayew had the chance to kill the game when he found himself one-on-one against Thébaux but the Brest keeper pulled off a great save to deny the Ghana international. Geoffrey Dernis then came close to breaking OM hearts but his injury-time shot was cleared off the line by Jérémy Morel as Marseille held on to leapfrog PSG into second ahead of next week's clash with Lorient at the Vélodrome.