Gignac leaves it late to extend OM winning streak
By D. Crossan
Ligue 1 top scorer André-Pierre Gignac netted his ninth goal of the season in stoppage time as leaders Olympique de Marseille beat Caen 2-1 to extend their winning run to seven matches.
SM Caen 1-2 Olympique de Marseille
All three goals were scored in the final 16 minutes. Alaixys Romao opened the scoring in the 74th minute, only for Yrondu Musavu-King to equalise six minutes from time. Gignac had a terrific chance in the 89th-minute and then finally broke Caen's resistance in the 93rd-minute as OM moved onto 22 points, putting them eight clear of champions PSG ahead of the capital club's home game with Monaco.
Caen were indebted to Rémy Vercoutre in the sixth minute as the former Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper made a terrific save to his right to deny Florian Thauvin a third Ligue 1 goal of the season. The chance had been created by Dimitri Payet, like Gignac, recalled to the France squad this week.
Caen had not beaten OM at home since 1997 and came into the match off a morale-sapping run of three straight losses and only two points claimed from their previous five fixtures. Yet Patrice Garande's men threatened on the quarter-hour when Mathieu Duhamel shot marginally over Steve Mandanda's crossbar.
OM were unchanged yet again with Marcelo Bielsa seeing no reason to alter a winning side and the Argentinean's team were close to taking the lead in the 33rd minute when a reflex save by Vercoutre prevented Giannelli Imbula - back in the France Under-21s squad – from registering for the third game running.
Mandanda was called into action in bizarre circumstances soon afterwards as he had to conjure up a save with his left foot to prevent a Brice Dja Djédjé own goal following a poorly-judged backpass by the right-back. Vercoutre then kept out a powerful Thauvin effort as the sides turned around locked at 0-0.
Immediately after the restart only a block from a Caen defender prevented a Thauvin header from flying in as Vercoutre was beaten. Gignac, scorer of eight goals in as many games at the start of the season, had his first chance five minutes into the second half and his right-footed volley went slightly wide of Vercoutre's left post.
Romao and Musavu-King net
OM were frustrated until 15 minutes from time when Romao emerged as the unlikely hero. The Togolese international, who joined OM in January 2013, had only ever scored once before for the club in 58 Ligue 1 appearances. Romain Alessandrini, freshly onto the field in place of Thauvin, swung over a corner from the right and Romao darted to the front post, beating Bangaly-Fodé Keita to the ball and heading beyond Vercoutre.
Caen had a goal disallowed in the 77th minute for offside much to Damien Da Silva's anguish as he'd headed home in emphatic fashion. The attempt seemed to galvanise Caen in any case and six minutes from time the Norman club equalised through Musavu-King. The centre-half connected with a Jean Calvé corner, beating Jérémy Morel to the ball and heading past Mandanda.
Gignac at the death
Vercoutre made a fortuitous save with his head from Gignac in the 89th-minute but the striker was not to be denied, breaking Caen's hearts as he smashed the ball past Vercoutre from close range after service from Benjamin Mendy.