PARIS (AFP) – Marseille reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 from Paris Saint-Germain with a hard-earned 3-1 victory over Metz at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday evening.
Andre Ayew, making his first appearance in more than a month after injury, and Dimitri Payet scored to secure the win after Andre-Pierre Gignac’s first-half opener had been cancelled out by Florent Malouda.
An eighth consecutive home win for Marcelo Bielsa’s side means they end the weekend one point clear of defending champions PSG, who beat Nantes 2-1 on Saturday.
Marseille have not lost at home to Metz since 2004, when Franck Ribery was in the away side, but they endured an uncomfortable first half, creating little and requiring Steve Mandanda to make two fine saves from Malouda.
A Payet shot that flashed over on 34 minutes was the hosts’ first chance, and their first attempt on target, two minutes prior to the interval, brought the opening goal.
Payet whipped in a cross from the left for the unmarked Gignac to head home his 12th of the season, and 50th Ligue 1 goal for Marseille, from close range.
Metz were back level just 18 seconds into the second half as Juan Falcon teed up Malouda, whose shot from the edge of the area beat Mandanda thanks to a deflection off Nicolas Nkoulou.
However, Marseille were not to be denied, as Ayew marked his first appearance since picking up an injury on international duty last month by following up to score after Alaixys Romao’s shot had hit the post on 59 minutes.
Gignac and Ayew both had chances to score again but it was the in-form Payet who wrapped up the points in injury time with a cool finish after being set up by Rod Fanni.
“It was tough, honestly. But that shows we have character,” Payet told Canal Plus. “We need to improve. Things smiled for us tonight but we could have a tricky time against other teams if we play like that.”
Earlier, a stoppage-time penalty from Ligue 1’s leading scorer Alexandre Lacazette allowed Lyon to win 3-2 at Evian and move back into third place.
Lyon twice trailed in Annecy to goals from the veteran Cedric Barbosa, but Lacazette equalised with nine minutes left before hammering home from the spot four minutes into injury time.
A second hard-earned win in the space of 72 hours ensured that Hubert Fournier’s side are now back on track after their humbling 3-0 loss at bitter rivals Saint-Etienne last weekend and allowed them to climb back above Les Verts and Bordeaux, who triumphed on Saturday.
Evian were dealt a blow before kick-off when talented Danish winger Daniel Wass was forced to withdraw from the side due to illness.