A late goal from their Brazilian captain has enhanced Lyon's Champions League hopes for next season, while OM's French crown was jolted a little further off their heads
Marseille’s Ligue 1 title hopes hang in the balance after a thrilling 3-2 defeat away to Lyon, which leaves them four points shy of leaders Lille.
These sides may have shared 10 goals in an unforgettable game last season, but this encounter was to prove a worthy sequel.
Midway through the first-half, a penalty from Lisandro Lopez gave Lyon the initiative, and their lead was doubled into the second period when Cesar Delgado scored what appeared to be the decisive goal. But Marseille kept the pressure up by scoring literally seconds later through Lucho Gonzalez. With the home side rattled, Loic Remy bundled the ball home from a corner to level matters. A dramatic game deserved a dramatic conclusion, and that was served up when Cris smashed home a magnificent volley to restore OL’s lead.
The early sparring saw both sides create chances, but it was Lyon who made the sprightlier start to proceedings, with a fierce drive from Delgado setting the tone for his evening. The Argentine’s fourth minute shot was turned over the top by Steve Mandanda.
OM were certainly not being overwhelmed at this point, and they could count themselves a little unlucky to have an Andre Ayew strike disallowed for handball following something of a melee in the home box.
Lyon may have had a pretty torrid campaign overall, but they have been reliable at the Stade Gerland this season and looked confident when taking the game to their rivals. Delgado’s bright form continued with a cut-back to Miralem Pjanic, but the young Bosnian wasted this fine opening by planting his drive from 12 yards wide of target.
When the breakthrough came, it was a goal created and finished by Lisandro, who won his own penalty kick, drawing a clumsy challenge from Souleymane Diawara and then delivering a firm shot beyond Steve Mandanda.
Towards the end of the first period, Marseille started to exert some form of dominance on the game for the first time, but Hugo Lloris was only stretched by a stinging Mathieu Valbuena drive.
OM maintained this momentum into the second period, but Lyon offered a very real threat on the break would only be denied a goal for substitute Jimmy Briand by the offside flag after Pjanic’s shot was spilled.
This warning shot was not heeded by the visitors, who would quickly find themselves 2-0 down following a similar situation. Lisandro orchestrated the break superbly, releasing Delgado at the opportune moment, while the left winger executed his finish with great composure.
That goal should really have been the end of the story for this match, but Marseille have often shown remarkable grit this season. Within moments of falling two behind, substitute Jordan Ayew had pounced on a defensive error from Briand to cross for Lucho to stab home at the near post.
Having suffered a succession of setbacks this season, Lyon were rattled by this moment, holding their lead only thanks to a world class Lloris reaction save to keep out a Remy header.
The goalkeeper’s heroics looked to be to naught from the resultant corner as Andre-Pierre Gignac’s near post flick was turned home by Remy.
All the momentum appeared to be with the visiting side, but a long free kick into the OM box broke kindly to Cris. The Brazilian defender had endured a difficult evening but would execute a thumping pivoting volley into the corner of the net to win a thrilling match and add further doubt to Marseille’s championship aspirations.
With four matches of the season remaining, Didier Deschamps’ men have fallen four points off the pace of leaders Lille, while OL have moved into very outside contention for the crown with this success. More importantly for the hosts, they’ve taken a step closer to third place and the potential Champions League berth it brings.