Jordan keeps OM on PSG's heels
Olympique de Marseille moved level on points with Paris Saint-Germain atop the Ligue 1 table after Jordan Ayew's early second-half goal gave them a 1-0 victory at home to LOSC Lille on Sunday.
Olympique de Marseille 1 - 0 LOSC Lille
Les Dogues had returned from the Stade Vélodrome to northern France with all three points on just four occasions in 32 previous visits; Ayew's header in the opening minute of the second-half ensured Rudi Garcia's men, who had Florent Balmont dismissed in added time at the end of the first-half, would once again make the long trip home empty-handed as OM picked up a first win in five competitive outings. Trailing PSG on goal difference, OM will move three points clear at the top if they can win Wednesday's home game with Olympique Lyonnais when the pair meet for their rearranged Week 10 fixture.
The last 13 games between the pair had produced a staggering half-century of goals, and the visitors almost added to that tally within a couple of minutes of kick-off – Nolan Roux rising before sending a glancing header narrowly wide of the target. Lille came closer still soon after when Marvin Martin latched onto Mathieu Debuchy's cross, but the former FC Sochaux-Montbéliard man saw his point-blank effort somehow turned away by Steve Mandanda.
The OM 'keeper is just ahead of Mickaël Landreau in the pecking order for the French national team, but the Lille custodian out-did his opposite number, upstaging Mandanda's brilliant reflex save by keeping André Ayew, Benoît Cheyrou and Mathieu Valbuena all at bay with a breathtaking triple save. Mandanda returned to centre stage just before the break with a flying save to deny Roux, who had met Dimitri Payet's cross with a diving header, but Lille's momentum was badly stunted when Balmont was dismissed in the dying seconds of the half after pulling back Valbuena as the OM midfielder darted promisingly goalwards.
The hosts wasted little time in taking advantage of the extra man on their return from the dressing-room. Jordan Ayew had seen an effort rightly ruled out for offside in the first half, but the assistant referee's flag would not save Lille when the Ghanaian rose to meet Valbuena's cross to head home.
With Roux particularly lively, however, OM could not rest on their laurels, and they needed Mandanda to match the former Stade Brestois 29's effort when he shot goalwards following an excellent through ball from Martin.
The hosts offered little going forward after taking the lead, but Joey Barton – making his L1 debut after the expiration of his 12-game ban – did send a long-range effort hurtling towards Landreau's goal, the ball passing just the wrong side of a post.