Payet dedicates win to Marseille fans caught in Saint-Etienne no-go zone

PARIS (AFP) – Dimitri Payet scored a brilliant goal as second-placed Marseille claimed a 2-0 victory at Saint-Etienne on Wednesday night to cut the gap to Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) back to 12 points although hundreds of their diehard fans were stopped from watching the game.

Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille opened up a six-point lead over third-placed Rennes, who lost 1-0 at Lille on Tuesday, by bouncing back from successive goalless stalemates against Bordeaux and Angers.

The match was delayed by 15 minutes after clashes between the two sets of fans outside the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

According to firefighters and the Saint-Etienne prosecutors’ office, there were no injuries or arrests.

However, the game was played without visiting supporters – believed to number around 400 – who left under police escort despite making a round trip of around 650km.

Payet gave Marseille a seventh-minute lead with a magnificent individual goal, shaping to cross before cutting onto his left foot and hammering the ball past bewildered home goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier from what seemed an impossible angle.

The former West Ham United star has scored 10 goals in all competitions this season.

“I was looking for the cross, but I saw that he (Ruffier) wasn’t in his goal at all, so I took the opportunity to hit it hard,” Payet told Canal+.