Montpellier end OM run, maintain pressure
Montpellier moved level on points with leaders Paris Saint-Germain after beating Marseille 1-0 in a hard-fought south-coast derby at the Stade de la Mosson, Souleymane Diawara putting through his own net.
Montpellier Hérault SC 1-0 Olympique de Marseille
A gripping game was settled when the veteran Senegalese defender, who on Thursday signed a contract extension keeping him at Marseille until 2014, headed a cross from compatriot Souleymane Camara past Steve Mandanda just after the hour mark. Montpellier have now won six out of seven games at the Stade de la Mosson this season and move on to 30 points, 12 ahead of Marseille, who are 10th.
Montpellier have enjoyed a stunning season so far, and came into this game as the leading scorers in France’s top flight, hot on the heels of leaders PSG. However, OM would have been confident of claiming a win to throw their hat back into the ring in the bid for a top-three finish. Didier Deschamps’ side travelled along the Mediterranean coast looking to stretch a seven-match unbeaten league run and continue their fine recent record against Montpellier, whom they beat in last season’s Coupe de la Ligue final.
This though, was an acid test for OM, who were still looking for their first victory against opposition from the top half, and they immediately realised they were very much in a game. Camara looked particularly threatening for the hosts, and he ran almost the entire length of the field before forcing the first meaningful save of the evening from Mandanda.
Rémy squanders golden opportunity
Soon after, a Camara back-post volley was crucially blocked by Jérémy Morel, before Marseille had their first real sight of Geoffrey Jourdren’s goal. A fine Jordan Ayew pass played in Loïc Rémy, who rounded the Montpellier ‘keeper, but was unable to divert his attempt on target.
As the rain fell over south-western France, Ligue 1’s joint-top scorer Olivier Giroud headed a Younès Belhanda free-kick just past, and there was to be no breakthrough in the first 45 minutes.
The home side started the second half brightly, although Alou Diarra flashed an effort wide from distance as a sign that the 2010 champions were still a threat. Deschamps then opted to withdraw Rémy - who may have been feeling the affects of a busy ten days on international duty – and replace him with the much-maligned André-Pierre Gignac, but within moments of that move Montpellier had taken the lead.
After a wonderful piece of skill, the prodigious Belhanda supplied Camara, and his cross from the right bye-line was headed for Giroud before Diawara turned it into his own net.
Marseille came closest to grabbing an equaliser shortly after when Jourdren failed to hold a Gignac shot and Jordan Ayew almost turned in the loose ball. OM maintained the pressure on the Montpellier goal right to the finish, but the hosts held firm for a famous victory. Marseille must now pick themselves up for a huge week in which they entertain Olympiakos in the Champions League, and then PSG in the league.