Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Marseille: Alex header keeps 10-man home side firmly in title hunt (Goal.com)
Carlo Ancelotti’s side opened the scoring after five minutes as Jeremy Menez reacted well in the box to steer home a left-footed shot, but the team would be put under increasing pressure from its guest as the first half wore on.
Halftime didn’t change the momentum of the fixture, and midway through the second period Andre Ayew leveled matters with a header. A mere 30 seconds later, PSG was back in the driving seat, with Alex’s accurate header beating Steve Mandanda. Mohamed Sissoko was sent off late on, but the home side held out.
There is no love between these outfits, and that was abundantly clear in the opening 20 minutes, which was constantly punctuated by fouls. Somewhere among the seemingly endless stoppages, the home team managed to move into the lead. Maxwell’s cross from the left was knocked back across goal by Christophe Jallet, and Menez steered the ball into the corner of the net.
It took the game nearly half an hour to settle down, but it was Marseille which emerged as the dominant side once a pattern was established. Chances, though, were at a premium. The team threatened regularly from set pieces, but too often the target was missed, with Stephane Mbia particularly culpable in this regard.
Occasional surges from Ayew posed the home team's problems, creating chances for Morgan Amalfitano and then Alou Diarra, whose seemingly goal-bound effort was deflected over by Alex, as Marseille increased the pressure towards the break.
Although Didier Deschamps’ men remained in control after the interval, they continued to struggle for offensive inspiration. Their sheer weight of possession suggested a goal could arrive, though, and it did just before the hour mark. Inevitably it came from a crossed ball, with Loic Remy heading back across goal for Ayew to convert unmarked from six yards.
The momentum seemed to be with the visiting side, but PSG quickly won a corner at the other end of the field. Nene delivered excellently, and Alex’s fine header kissed the far post as it made its way into Mandanda’s net.
In a rather frenetic finish, PSG attempted to hit their opponents on the counterattack while Marseille increasingly pushed players forward to no avail. Salvatore Sirigu made a great reaction block from a Brandao header, and moments later Benoit Cheyrou scooped a shot horribly over the top when he probably should have scored, missing OM’s last great chance.
Sissoko's red card for a second yellow gave the visiting side some late hope, but the team would not threaten the home goal again.
As well as defeating its fiercest rival, Ancelotti’s side has the joy of moving back level on points with Montpellier at the summit of Le Championnat, and on Wednesday the club will be hoping Marseille can end its barren run of form by defeating Rene Girard’s men at Stade Velodrome in a delayed match from round 30.