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Marseille beats Metz 3-1 to stay top

December 7, 2014

PARIS (AP) — Marseille restored its one-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the French league by defeating Metz 3-1 on Sunday.

Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac met a cross from Dimitri Payet to open the scoring with a downward header in the 43rd minute. But Metz midfielder Florent Malouda equalized in the 46th with a long-range strike that took a deflection off defender Nicolas Nkoulou.

Ghana winger Andre Ayew gave the hosts a 2-1 lead by converting a rebound in the 59th before Payet sealed the win with a chip in stoppage time.

“That was tough,” Payet said. “We had less control over the game tonight than usual.”

Elsewhere, two late goals from Alexandre Lacazette helped Lyon win 3-2 at Evian to move back into third place, Lens forward Adamo Coulibaly powered home a header in injury time to salvage a 1-1 draw with Lille and Claudio Beauvue dribbled past two defenders in the 78th to fire struggling Guingamp to a 3-2 victory over mid-table Reims.

At Stade Velodrome, Metz was the more threatening side in the first half, forcing Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to punch away a long-range effort from Malouda in the 18th.

Mandanda flapped at a corner a minute later and the ball fell to Metz center back Sylvain Marchal who volleyed over the bar.

Malouda also led a counterattack in the 39th, cutting inside Nkoulou to fire a low strike that Mandanda saved with his right foot.

However, one lapse of concentration ruined Metz’ efforts as an unmarked Gignac scored his 12th league goal this season to put Marseille ahead.

Metz caught the hosts off guard at the restart with Juan Falcon setting up Malouda for an equalizer.

Marseille proved quite clinical by adding a second goal from its second clear-cut chance. Alaixys Romao struck the post from 15 yards but Ayew pounced on the rebound to sweep the ball into the net.

Mandanda protected his team’s lead by saving a powerful half-volley from Yeni Ngbakoto in the 67th and a long-range attempt from Malouda in the 69th.

Marseille defender Rod Fanni put the result beyond doubt by making an interception to feed Payet for the last goal.

“We’re happy because we’re rewarded for our efforts,” Fanni said, “but it won’t be enough in the future. We’ll have to play more seriously.”

On Saturday, it was: Paris Saint-Germain 2, Nantes 1; Bordeaux 3, Lorient 2; Caen 2, Nice 3; Rennes 0, Montpellier 4; and Saint-Etienne 1, Bastia 0.

On Friday, Monaco beat Toulouse 2-0.

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