Marseille unbeatable in France
Marseille’s Morgan Amalfitano (R) celebrates with Julio Nkoulou
PARIS, France ● A first-half header from Morgan Amalfitano was enough to give Marseille their sixth straight win of the new campaign, a 1-0 success over Evian on Sunday, and hand the southerners a four-point lead atop Ligue 1.
Amalfitano connected with a Matthieu Valbuena free-kick on 33 minutes to preserve the former European champions’ perfect record this season and leave them clear of Lyon, who could only manage a 1-1 draw at Lille in the late match.
Marseille’s last league crown was as recently as 2010 but last season they endured a wretched time and parted company with Didier Deschamps, who moved on to pastures new as coach of France with veteran boss Elie Baup coming in.
The change has been proving as good as a rest and the club have only conceded a solitary goal to date.
Amalfitano could have had a second two minutes after his goal but his near-post header floated just past wide with visiting keeper Stephan Andersen beaten following a corner from the left.
Marseille did not turn the heat on thereafter as they showed signs of fatigue following their Europa League draw at Fenerbache but were not threatened by an Evian side which has lost all three of its away games to date.
Lyon, who won seven titles in a row – their first ever – from 2002 to 2008 but have fallen off the pace since, particularly with Paris Saint Germain floating ever upwards on a sea of Qatari cash.
On Sunday, Lyon thanked a late Lisandro equaliser to stand second, two points ahead of PSG, after Nolan Roux had put Lille into a seventh-minute lead.
Bordeaux earlier let slip two home points in a 2-2 draw with Ajaccio which saw the former slip back into sixth place.
Bordeaux are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions but were kicking themselves after substitute Chahir Belghazouani bagged a point in injury time.
Henrique had given the hosts the lead after a scoreless first half but Ricardo Faty equalised only for Yoan Gouffran to make it 2-1 to the Girondins before Belghazouani stole in at the death.
“It’s a damn nuisance to let points slip – as we did against Nice,” moaned Bordeaux coach Francis Gillot, who also complained at an early afternoon kickoff when his side were in Europa League action late Thursday – when they thrashed Bruges of Belgium 4-0.
Referring to the last-gasp Ajaccio equaliser, he said: “A lack of concentration goes hand in hand with fatigue.”
On Saturday, a brace from star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped propel Paris Saint Germain to a 4-0 romp at Bastia as the capital club moved into third spot.
A flurry of early draws have held up PSG’s assault on the summit.
But they were well on their way to a third straight victory once Jeremy Menez eased them in front in the seventh minute before Ibrahimovic struck five minutes before half-time.
Blaise Matuide added a third to kill off Bastia with 18 minutes remaining before Ibrahimovic delivered the coup de grace in the final minute.
Defending champions Montpellier were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint Etienne on Friday, bringing an end to a frustrating week where they had suffered two successive defeats.
Beaten 3-1 by promoted Reims seven days ago, and then 2-1 at home to Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, Montpellier needed a second-half equaliser from veteran Senegalese international striker Souleymane Camara to salvage a point.