Mitroglou salvages draw for Marseille with late equalizer
PARIS (AP) — Kostas Mitroglou scored a late equalizer on his club debut as Marseille salvaged a 3-3 draw at Strasbourg in the French league on Sunday.
The Greece striker fired home from close range after goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara spilled Jordan Amavi’s low shot in the 88th minute.
Marseille had won its three previous games and twice took the lead in an entertaining match that produced a season-high 39 shots.
Playmaker Dimitri Payet showed great dexterity to side-foot home a cross from Amavi in the fifth minute.
“I hadn’t scored yet this season, so this goal does me a lot of good,” said Payet, who joined from West Ham in January.
Strasbourg midfielder Jean Eudes Aholou equalized with a deflected strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 31st.
Payet then played Mitroglou clean through but his strike was saved by Kamara.
Marseille regained the lead three minutes after halftime when midfielder Morgan Sanson’s cross from the left — intended for Mitroglou — scuffed the head of center back Bakary Kone and sailed in.
Kone made amends in the 60th, rising above defender Adil Rami to head in a corner.
Mitroglou missed another opportunity in the 73rd. Just moments later, Rami tried to head away Dimitri Lienard’s powerful strike from 25 meters out but inadvertently deflected it past his goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Striker Martin Terrier missed a golden opportunity for 4-2 and Marseille punished the miss.
Although fourth-place Marseille has shown it can score, it will need to shore up its defense when it plays league leader Paris Saint-Germain next Sunday.
Montpellier continued its habit of troubling leading teams by beating Nice 2-0.
It’s unbeaten so far against the top three from last season. It has drawn against defending champion Monaco and runner-up Paris Saint-Germain and comfortably beaten Nice in successive games.
Benin attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon and Belgium forward Isaac Mbenza scored in the second half with their first goals of the campaign.
Sessegnon was once considered among the biggest talents in the French league when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2008, but his career never really took off despite several years in the Premier League with Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.
The 33-year-old Sessegnon showed a glimpse of his ability, however, with a ferocious strike from 25 meters (yards) that flew into the top right corner in the 55th minute.
Mbenza’s effort in the 74th was just as impressive, as he collected the ball on the left, skipped past two defenders and curled the ball into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.
The win moved Montpellier up to mid-table, while Nice drops down to a miserable 14th place after its fifth defeat so far.
Nice striker Mario Balotelli was well contained by the home defense. When he did get a chance in the first half, he was thwarted by goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte’s sprawling save.
Nantes is resolute, well organized, opportunist and tough to beat under coach Claudio Ranieri.
Sound familiar? So was unheralded Leicester when Ranieri guided it to the Premier League title in 2015-16 in one of the greatest upsets in soccer history.
Ranieri has little hope of winning the French title this season, however, faced with the attacking power of Paris Saint-Germain.
After losing the first two league games, Ranieri’s side is unbeaten in seven and sits comfortably in fifth place following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.
Nantes is level on 17 points with Marseille and third-place Saint-Etienne, which have a better goal difference, and only two behind second-place Monaco. PSG has 25 points.
Burkina Faso center forward Prejuce Nakoulma put Nantes ahead with a close-range finish in first-half injury time, his first goal of the season.
But a fine run and shot from Brazilian forward Malcolm — his fifth of the campaign — shortly after the break earned seventh-place Bordeaux a point.