Frau the hero as Lille leave it late
By A. Scott
Substitute Pierre-Alain Frau scored in injury time as Lille sent out a message to their title rivals with a 2-1 win against Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome.
Sunday, 6 March
Olympique de Marseille 1-2 LOSC Lille Métropole
Frau popped up just when it looked as if Lille would have to settle for a point from a game that they should have had sewn up at half-time. Eden Hazard had put them in front, but Marseille improved after the break and drew level thanks to Loïc Rémy.
OM came into the game of the weekend in fourth place just one point behind their visitors after a nine-match unbeaten run. Meanwhile, Lille arrived on the south coast in something of a slump in form, with just five points taken from their last four games.
However, the home side got off to the worst possible start, falling behind with just ten minutes played. Hazard, who signed a one-year contract extension on Friday, tying him to the club until 2015, scored a wonderful goal that highlighted exactly why he is one of the most sought-after talents in Europe. The little Belgian picked up possession in a central position fully forty yards from goal, and let fly with a vicious shot that gave home ‘keeper Steve Mandanda no chance.
Lille bossed the rest of the first half. Their passing was sharp, and movement excellent, although Marseille were surprisingly sluggish, and their fans, packed into the Stade Vélodrome, were subdued. OM never got their passing going, and failed to test Mickaël Landreau in the visitors’ goal. However, they could count themselves lucky to go in at the interval trailing by just the one goal, as Lille looked like scoring every time they got forward, and after Hazard’s opener, they had various chances to score again.
Moussa Sow should have done better than blaze over with just Steve Mandanda to beat after being played in by Florent Balmont, and moments later the same player fired a Gervinho cut-back over the bar. Then, just after the half-hour mark, Rio Mavuba drove through the heart of the home defence, doing well to keep his balance. He supplied Gervinho, but while an early shot from the Ivorian might have led to a goal, instead he took his time, allowing the Marseille defence to get back and deflect his shot over for a corner. Then Mandanda came to the rescue on the stroke of half-time, turning Gervinho's goal-bound effort around the post.
Conscious of the need to change something, Didier Deschamps took off the ineffective Lucho González at the break, and threw on André-Pierre Gignac, who was making his comeback after two weeks out injured. Benoît Cheyrou was then introduced into the midfield in place of Edouard Cissé, and while the changess did lead to a slight improvement in play from the home side, their equalising goal on the hour-mark still came from nowhere.
A hopeful cross in from the right-hand side only succeeded in finding Mathieu Debuchy at the back post, but his headed clearance was poor, falling nicely for Rémy, who took a touch before firing low into Landreau’s left-hand corner.
Lille refused to panic, and Yohan Cabaye came close to putting them back in front with a strike from wide on the left-hand side that cannoned off the post. However, André Ayew should have scored at the other end, but with Landreau posted missing, he was unable to direct his header from a Cheyrou free-kick on target.
Then, just when it looked like the spoils would be shared, Frau struck a minute into injury time, getting in front of Gabriel Heinze to divert an Emerson cross into the net, ending Marseille’s four-match winning run and giving Lille their first win over a direct title rival this season as Rudi Garcia’s side end the weekend back on top of the table.