Payet fires Marseille past Lyon and into second
Dimitri Payet was the star of the show as Olympique de Marseille beat Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 at the Orange Vélodrome on Sunday scoring a pair of goals to help André Villas-Boas's side into second behind Paris Saint-Germain.
Olympique de Marseille 2-1 Olympique Lyonnais
Marseille welcomed Lyon to the Orange Vélodrome knowing that a win would see them conclude the weekend as PSG's nearest challengers, and they came out of the blocks flying, roared on by the 67,000-strong crowd, who were mostly backing the home team. Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes handled the ball in the box early on, but there were some six minutes between referee Antony Gautier's whistle for a penalty (12') and Payet's eventual conversation (18'), with Léo Dubois taking a tumble after the lightest of brushes with Dario Benedetto when the players were lined up on the edge of the area. The vice-captain's finish, into the top corner, was all the more impressive given the wait.
There was significantly less in his way just past the half hour when he drove towards the Lyon box and let fly on his weaker left foot, but OL 'keeper Anthony Lopes did well to get down and make the stop (31'). The hosts side were unmistakably on top in the first half, and after Maxime Lopez came off second-best to Lopes in meeting Benedetto's knock-down (36'), they made it 2-0 when Payet steadied himself on the edge of the OL area and steered his third goal of the season into the far bottom corner (39').
Lyon threaten comeback
Lyon coach Rudi Garcia - who was a UEFA Europa League runner up with Marseille in 2018 - was given a lively reception by his former fans. With his return to his former stomping ground looking likely to end in defeat on OL's first-half showing, he changed his hand for the second, bringing defensive midfielder Jean Lucas on for the more attack-minded Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (46'). OL duly had the first chance on goal after the restart, with Bertrand Traoré spinning a free-kick towards Steve Mandanda's top corner. The Marseille captain - recently recalled to the France squad - proved equal to the danger, though (47').
Garcia was forced into an injury-enforced change soon after, with Houssem Aouar limping off with a thigh injury, ceding the captain's armband to Dunois in the process, to be replaced by the 16-year-old Rayan Cherki (57'). The visitors were unfazed by the recalibration, though, and pulled one back when Traoré controlled beautifully out wide before putting the ball on Moussa Dembélé's head for 2-1 (60'). Marseille then went down to 10 men after Alvaro Gonzalez brought down Dembélé as the last man (64'), making for a frenetic final sprint. Kevin Strootman replaced Bendetto to help the defensive cause (66'). Payet then went off to a big ovation, Valère Germain taking his place (78'), and to OM's immense credit they kept looking for more. Duje Caleta-Car saw a shot deflect over (80') and it ended 2-1.
THE PLAYER: Dimitri Payet
Payet described Lyon as a direct rival to Marseille in the build-up to the game, a club with "the same goal" of trying to join PSG in the UEFA Champions League places by the end of the season, and it was his intervention that put six points between Les Phocéens and Les Gones on Sunday night. He showed nerves of steel to convert his penalty, while his second goal made him the first Marseille player since André-Pierre Gignac back in May 2014 to score a brace against Lyon in Ligue 1 Conforama.
THE STAT: 5
Incredibly, that May day was the last time Marseille beat Lyon in the French top flight. OM knocked OL out of the Coupe de France in the round of 16 in January 2016, but in the league, it has been four draws and six defeats in the five years since that Gignac-inspired 4-2 victory. Sunday also saw Marseille become to first side ever to score 4,000 top-flight goals all-time.