A brace from OM's leading striker means that they've closed in on Ligue 1's top three spots, while LOSC have lost further ground on league leaders Paris Saint-GermainOlympique de Marseille did their hopes of Champions League qualification a great service as they defeated Ligue 1 champions Lille 2-0 at Stade Velodrome.
The first half was goalless, but Loic Remy opened the scoring in favour of the hosts early in the second period with a precise header into the corner of the net after Mathieu Valbuena had brilliantly wriggled into space to clip a cross into the former Nice player. A loose ball late on was pounced on by the striker, who grabbed his second with a composed finish to kill off the game.
After a forceful showing from the visitors in the early stages, Marseille started to dominate the middle of the field and sustained significant pressure on the visiting defence for much of the first period.
Against a Lille defence decimated by selection problems, OM picked a number of holes in their guests. Morgan Amalfitano was the first to make headway, twice cutting dangerous balls back to Lucho Gonzalez, though on both occasions the Argentine’s touch let him down.
Inevitably, Remy would also worry the champions, with his best supply line typically Mathieu Valbuena. A deft lofted pass from the winger released the striker, though his finish was not accurate enough and was blocked by Mickael Landreau. The striker was unlucky midway through the finish, when an instinctive volley was blocked on the line more by luck than judgement by Aurelien Chedjou.
Perhaps OM’s best openings would fall to holding midfielder Benoit Cheyrou, who sent a good early chance high but stung the palms of Landreau with a fierce shot just before the break and then couldn’t squeeze the follow up into the goal as Mathieu Valbuena recycled possession.
Lille’s first-half threat was very limited indeed, but seconds after the break Ireneusz Jelen nearly found the net, sending a great opening into the arms of the previously unemployed Steve Mandanda.
Marseille responded with a brace of Valbuena efforts that were scooped up by Landreau, regaining their dominance before Remy opened the scoring with a well-placed header.
Almost immediately, play opened up. A solo run from Hazard took him by Stephane Mbia, but his finish was too weak to seriously trouble Mandanda, and the youngster couldn’t quite get the ball under his control when handily placed soon afterwards.
OM were a serious threat on the break as Lille pushed more players forward as the match went on, and with less than 10 minutes remaining a slack pass from Idrissa Gueye was leapt upon by Remy. Landreau had rushed from his goal to try and snuff out the danger, and he was easily rounded by the striker, who rolled the ball into the net from 20 yards out to finish the game.
Now only two points behind LOSC in the Ligue 1 standings, Marseille have their eyes firmly fixed on a podium place that would equate to Champions League football, while the defending champions now find themselves seven points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who are increasingly favourites to pick up the Championnat crown.