Marseille move level with PSG
Last Updated: 26/11/12 2:54pm
Jordan Ayew (r) celebrates his winning goal
Marseille moved level on points with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain thanks to a narrow 1-0 victory over 10-man Lille at Stade Velodrome.
All the key action took place in the space of two minutes around the interval as Lille's Florent Balmont saw red in first-half stoppage time before Jordan Ayew netted the only goal a minute after the restart.
OM move onto 26 points, level with PSG but second to the capital club on goal difference. Lille are ninth as their inconsistent campaign continues.
Marseille welcomed controversial midfielder Joey Barton into their line-up for the first time in Ligue 1 following the expiry of his 12-game domestic ban.
But the combative Englishman was slow to bring solidity to the Marseille midfield as Lille went close twice in the opening 10 minutes, first with a Nolan Roux header that flew wide and then a Marvin Martin effort from close range that Steve Mandanda did superbly to keep out.
Marseille were left wondering how they had not gone ahead in the 13th minute when Mickael Landreau made a wonderful triple save to deny Andre Ayew, Mathieu Valbuena and Benoit Cheyrou.
Barton earned his first Ligue 1 caution after just 22 minutes for a late tackle on Balmont, while three minutes later the hosts had the ball in the net only for Jordan Ayew to see his effort ruled out for offside.
Mandanda had to be at his best to keep out a Roux header with his foot late in the half, but a minute into stoppage time Lille's hopes suffered a setback when Balmont saw red for a fouling Mathieu Valbuena when the Marseille man had a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Lille's night took a further nosedive seconds after the restart when Marseille went in front, Valbuena exchanging passes with Jeremy Morel before crossing for Jordan Ayew to head beyond Landreau for his fourth goal of the season.
Mandanda denied Roux again after 61 minutes as Lille's final chance of the night came and went, before Barton nearly marked his league debut with a goal when his powerful strike from 25 yards shaved Landreau's right-hand post.
French Ligue 1
|5||Paris St Germain||5||9|
|20||Evian Thonon Gaillar||5||1|