Gignac’s penalty helps Marseille keep pressure on Lyon
PARIS (AP) — Andre-Pierre Gignac scored from the penalty spot early in the second half for second-place Marseille to beat Evian 1-0 and keep the pressure on French league leader Lyon on Saturday.
The penalty was awarded in the 49th minute after veteran midfielder Cedric Barbosa barged into winger Dimitri Payet. France striker Gignac drove a low shot under the body of goalkeeper Benjamin Leroy for his 14th league goal.
Marseille, which had lost two of its past three league games, needed to win after title rival Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-0 win at home to Rennes on Friday.
This hard-fought win keeps Marseille level on points with PSG — both sides have the same goal difference, too — and one point behind Lyon, which faces a tough match at Monaco on Sunday.
Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa was disappointed with his team’s lack of creativity.
“The goal difference today should have been more in our favor,” Bielsa said. “In the last 30 minutes, the teams were pretty even and we didn’t get many chances.”
While Marseille’s away form has been awful — with no win on the road for the past eight games — the home form remains impressive.
“The Stade Velodrome crowd helps Marseille pick up points,” Evian coach Pascal Dupraz said. “All of our efforts today were undone by that penalty.”
Lille could not bounce back after two consecutive losses and was held to 1-1 at Nantes. The visitors opened the scoring in the first half after Kevin Koubemba’s pass in the back of a lethargic defense deflected into midfielder Jonathan Delaplace’s path. Delaplace fired home with a powerful strike from close range.
But Oswaldo Vizcarrondo leveled 10 minutes from time with a header from a corner.
After an awful start to the season, Bastia continued on the road of recovery with a 1-1 draw at struggling Lens, and extended its unbeaten league run to six matches.
Sixth-place Montpellier was held to a goalless draw at Lorient; striker Aleksandar Pesic scored his fifth goal this season to give Toulouse a 1-0 win over Reims, and last-place Metz failed to win for an 11th straight league match in a 0-0 draw with Nice.
Marseille wasted an early chance to go ahead when defender Brice Djadjedje missed the target with a free header in the 10th minute after Gignac picked him out with a cross to the far post.
Gignac’s goal settled a tense match where Payet was Marseille’s most impressive performer, and he went close shortly before the break with a rising drive from the right that just cleared the crossbar.
Midfielder Alaixys Romao missed the chance to make it 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining, blazing over from close range after Payet’s free kick caused confusion in Evian’s defense.
In Sunday’s other games, Saint-Etienne goes to Normandy to play Caen and Bordeaux faces Guingamp.