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French Ligue 1

Stade Velodrome 23rd December 2012 - Kick off 20:00 Ref: O Thual

Marseille Marseille vs St Etienne St Etienne

Marseille 1

A Ayew (45)


Marseille join duo at the top

Last Updated: 23/12/12 10:52pm

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Marseille celebrate against St Etienne

Marseille celebrate against St Etienne

Three teams share the lead in Ligue 1 heading into Christmas after Marseille joined Paris St Germain and Lyon at the summit by beating St Etienne 1-0 on Sunday night.

In what is turning into one of the most exciting title races in years, Elie Baup's men were once again indebted to one of the Ayew brothers - Andre on this occasion - as they kept themselves in the thick of things.

Ayew scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time to see off Les Verts, who themselves have gone from genuine title contenders to mid-table fodder over the past month.

They are now 11 points behind the leading trio, who are headed by PSG on goal difference, and were guilty tonight of failing to test home goalkeeper Steve Mandanda enough.

Christophe Galtier's men actually started brightly, keeping the ball and defending with a high line, but they were unable to do little more than hog possession and when Marseille got going, they showed them how it was done.

Mathieu Valbuena laid on the game's first chance with 36 minutes gone, whipping in a fizzing cross that Stephane Ruffier did well to deal with, before the same player's cross landed on the head of Joey Barton who should have done better with a free header.

Marseille had been increasing the tempo and with 45 minutes on the clock they went ahead, with Ayew's brilliant header making good of Rod Fanni's cross.

St Etienne knew they needed to make more of a game of it in the attacking third after the break and they at least tried, Josua Guilavogui leading the way with a 20-yarder that went over, before Mandanda got down well to make a stunning save from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although the offside flag had already been raised.

Aubameyang was onside when he ran on to Francois Clerc's pass and rounded Mandanda, but Fanni got back to deny him on the line, and that was as good as it got for the visitors, with Marseille seeing it out and nearly adding a second as Andre Ayew, fed by brother Jordan, was denied by Ruffier.

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French Ligue 1

French Ligue 1
Pos Team P Pts
1 Paris St Germain 33 68
2 Lyon 33 65
3 Monaco 33 59
4 Marseille 34 57
5 St Etienne 33 57
6 Bordeaux 34 55
7 Montpellier 33 52
8 Lille 34 50
9 Rennes 34 49
10 Nantes 34 44
11 Guingamp 34 43
12 Nice 34 41
13 Bastia 34 40
14 Toulouse 34 39
15 Caen 34 38
16 Lorient 34 38
17 Reims 33 38
18 Evian Thonon Gaillar 34 37
19 Metz 33 30
20 RC Lens 33 26