Ayew Double In Marseille Win Keeps PSG Waiting

by
Reuters
Andre Ayew scored his first double of the season as Olympique Marseille beat Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday to secure Champions League qualification and delay Paris St Germain's expected coronation as Ligue 1 champions.

Andre Ayew scored his first double of the season as Olympique Marseille beat Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday to secure Champions League qualification and delay Paris St Germain's expected coronation as Ligue 1 champions.

Ayew put second-placed Marseille in front at home with a powerful header on the stroke of halftime and netted the second in the 62nd minute from close range.

Substitute Eden Ben Basat scored a late consolation for 10th-placed Toulouse.

Marseille, unbeaten in their last 10 games, moved to 70 points from 36 matches, four points behind leaders PSG, who have played 35.

The Paris club will be confirmed as champions for the first time since 1994 if they win at Olympique Lyon, who are third on 63 points, on Sunday.

A PSG victory would also guarantee second spot and direct qualification for the Champions League group stage for Marseille, who have already clinched a top three spot due to a 10-point lead over fourth-placed Lille and Nice in fifth.

Lille beat Stade Reims 3-0 at home on Friday while Nice visit third-bottom Evian Thonon Gaillard and St Etienne, sixth on 59, travel to midtable Lorient on Sunday.

The team that finishes third enters the Champions League third qualifying round.

"For once, we will support PSG tomorrow (Sunday)," Marseille playmaker Mathieu Valbuena told French broadcaster Canal Plus, with his club having played down any hope of winning the title.

 

BOTH FEET

Nine-times French champions Marseille were not even expected to challenge for a Champions League qualifying spot this season after a disappointing 10th-placed finish last term.

"We now have both feet in the Champions League. That's logical. We have deserved our points," said Valbuena, whose side snatched a record 18th win by a one-goal margin on Saturday after having often been criticised for some laboured, albeit solid, displays.

Saturday's game followed suit, with Marseille struggling against a well organised and aggressive Toulouse.

Neither side created many chances until Ayew broke the deadlock from Valbuena's right-wing cross.

The Ghanaian forward, who had not scored since late January, made the most of a rare opportunity and tapped home after Morgan Amalfitano picked up a loose ball in the box to put him clear.

Andre-Pierre Gignac could have wrapped up the points but his 70th minute attempt was saved on the line by Toulouse fullback Serge Aurier.

The home team showed signs of nerves as the visitors continued to push forward, and they conceded when Basat ran clear to slip the ball through goalkeeper Steve Mandanda's legs with eight minutes left.

However, Marseille regrouped and held on to clinch their fourth victory in a row and secure Champions League qualification for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

Elsewhere, Sloan Privat scored twice for Sochaux to condemn bottom-club Stade Brest to a 2-0 home defeat, their ninth consecutive.

Brest, who are six points from safety with 29 points, could be relegated on Sunday if Evian, 18th on 34 points, beat Nice.

Second-bottom Troyes kept their hopes of staying in Ligue 1 alive when they won 1-0 at 15th-placed Ajaccio. Troyes have 34 points, one adrift of 17th-ranked Nancy, who lost 3-2 at Girondins Bordeaux.

Valenciennes secured their place in the top flight for next season with a 4-1 victory at home to nine-man Stade Rennes, as did Bastia by beating Montpellier 3-1 thanks to an Anthony Modeste double.