Marseille extend St Etiennes 33-year misery
Marseille remained in a three-way tie for the lead of Ligue 1 on Sunday after a 1-0 win over St Etienne, extending the visitors' miserable record at Stade Velodrome where they haven't won since 1979.
The only goal of the game came in first-half stoppage time when Ghana striker Andre Ayew headed in a pinpoint, right-wing cross from Rod Fanni for his fifth league strike of the season.
Third-placed Marseille move onto 38 points -- the same as Paris Saint Germain and Lyon -- but it is the capital city side who lead the way into the two-week winter break on goal difference.
After breaking the deadlock, Ayew then came close to adding a second 10 minutes into the second-half but his shot was saved by Stephane Ruffier in goal.
At the other end, Steve Mandanda pulled off a flying point-blank save from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only for the St Etienne striker to be ruled offside.
Aubameyang was then clear on goal only to be denied by a fine sliding tackle by Fanni as Marseille held firm to put an end to a two-match home losing streak.
Lyon defeated Nice 3-0 on Saturday to go level with Paris Saint-Germain.
Lisandro Lopez, Anthony Reveillere, with his first league goal in over five years, and a Bafetimbi Gomis penalty gave Lyon the three points.
It was a disappointing return to Lyon for former boss Claude Puel whose side ended the match with 10 men after David Ospina was sent off while the home side also finished a man short when Dejan Lovren was red-carded in the last minute.
"It was a deserved victory," said Lyon coach Remi Garde.
"If we had believed at the start of the season that we would be where we are now then we would have been very happy. But it's only halfway and it will not be easy to keep on a similar path."
Rennes are fourth after a 4-2 win at Ajaccio in a match which finished 10 minutes late because of a pitch invasion.
PSG guaranteed they will go into the winter break as Ligue 1 leaders by beating 10-man Brest on Friday, the club's fourth successive win.
However, Carlo Ancelotti's side will not be getting carried away by their high-flying status -- 12 months ago they also led the way at Christmas only to see Montpellier take the title in May.
"We will have a good holiday because we are top of the table," said Ancelotti.
"It was another good performance. It wasn't easy because of the pitch and the opponents. It confirmed that we are in a good moment."
They were aided in their cause on Friday when Brest had Abdou Sissoko, the little brother of PSG's Mohamed, red-carded after half an hour for a bruising tackle on Ezequiel Lavezzi.
However, it wasn't until the second half that PSG took advantage of their numerical superiority.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring after 55 minutes with his 18th league goal of the season, finishing off a centre from Christophe Jallet.
Kevin Gameiro added the second in the 73rd minute with his fifth goal of the campaign just minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Former PSG favourite Bernard Mendy then put through his own goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
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