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Marseille break into top five
Published : 20 Dec 2011 22:46:55
Marseille, France's only former European champions, broke provisionally into the top five in Ligue 1 on Tuesday after a 3-1 win at Nancy which closed the gap on leaders Montpellier and Paris Saint Germain to six points.
Didier Deschamps' side, champions in 2010, made a poor start to the season but have since begun to string some form together and this was their sixth win in their past eight league games.
Deschamps, who captained the side to their 1993 European Cup victory, said that he was happy with their having recovered some of the ground they lost at the start of the season.
"We have slightly righted the ship," he said.
"Our bad streak in August and September is the difference between us and those ahead of us.
"However, since mid-October we have more or less taken the points we required, but we can't go back over the beginning of the season.
"We have often had our backs against the wall, and the team has always responded."
Stylish midfielder Mathieu Valbuena gave Marseille an 18th-minute lead with a low drive after an interchange with Loic Remy.
But Nancy, struggling to keep out of the bottom five with only one win in ten home outings, levelled through Reynald Lemaitre, who bundled in from close range eight minutes before the break to rouse the 20,000 crowd at the Stade Marcel-Picot.
The home faithful's hopes were dashed, however, as just four minutes later Cameroon star Stephane Mbia headed home a tailor-made cross from Morgan Amalfitano.
Marseille were turning the screw and after having an effort ruled out for offside it fell to Lucho Gonzalez, set up by Valbuena, to complete the win with a near post finish at the death.
On Wednesday, Montpellier, Paris Saint-Germain - still reputedly keen on bringing David Beckham to the City of Light for a career swansong - Lille and Lyon will all be out to end the year on top in the final round of fixtures before the winter break.
PSG were prevented from returning to the summit after being held to a 0-0 draw by Lille on Sunday, which left them below Montpellier on goal difference while defending champions Lille and Lyon are two points further back.
PSG visit Saint Etienne, Montpellier visit Evian, Lille host third-bottom Nice and Lyon are at Valenciennes.