x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

European football round-up: Marseille keep Ligue 1 title chase alive

Feyenoord closed in on Ajax as the Eredivisie reached the winter break, while Rudi Skacel's dream return to Hearts with new side Dundee United proved to be a nightmare.

Marseille forward Andre Ayew looks for a way past Saint Etienne's Francois Clerc.
Marseille forward Andre Ayew looks for a way past Saint Etienne's Francois Clerc.


Marseille rejoined Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain and Lyon on 38 points after easing past St Etienne 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome.

Andre Ayew superbly headed home Rod Fanni's cross on the stroke of half-time to earn Marseille a fourth victory in their last five league matches.

St Etienne, in contrast, have now earned just two points from their last five matches and have gone from looking like genuine title contenders to a side stuck in mid-table, 11 points adrift of the pacesetters.

Valenciennes bounced back from successive defeats with a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man Evian.

Goals from Gregory Pujol and Jose Saez saw the hosts to a victory that means they will spend the winter break inside the top six.

Saber Khelifa equalised for Evian in the first half but they had no response to Valenciennes' second goal, which came just moments after the visitors had lost Djakaridja Kone to a 71st-minute red card.

Sochaux lost 2-0 at Toulouse to remain stuck in the bottom three heading into the winter break.

Adrien Regattin put the hosts in front in the first half with a superb free kick and Emmanuel Riviere sealed the win five minutes from time.



Rudi Skacel was denied a dream return to Hearts as his Dundee United side were beaten 2-1 at Tynecastle.

The forward, a cult hero with Hearts supporters after two successful spells with the club, received a 51st-minute standing ovation in tribute to the two goals he scored in the 5-1 cup final win over Hibernian in May.

But it was Hearts' Ryan Stevenson who stole the show with a double of his own - including one from the spot - to render Keith Watson`s second-half goal nothing more than a consolation.

Elsewhere, there was controversy as Hibernian midfielder Paul Cairney was booked for diving - a card that earns him a ban - as his side drew 1-1 at Kilmarnock.

Cairney claimed he was felled in the box by Michael Nelson, with the referee not agreeing and the fallout continuing after the game.

Paul Heffernan had given Kilmarnock a sixth-minute lead, with Eoin Doyle levelling 20 minutes later.



Feyenoord moved level on points with third-placed Ajax going into the Eredivisie's winter break.

Graziano Pelle's double (58 and 87) gave Feyenoord a 2-1 win at home to FC Groningen, who had equalised through Virgil van Dijk on 76 minutes.

Ajax could only manage a 0-0 draw at FC Utrecht, who had Dave Bulthuis sent off in the last minute.

There was also a goalless draw between RKC Waalwijk and Willem II, with both sides ending the game with 10 men.

Willem II will be happier with the point after surviving Gaby Jallo's dismissal on 38 minutes, while the numbers were evened up in the final minute with the departure of RKC's Teddy Chevalier.

Yet another red card could not prevent Roda JC climbing out of the relegation play-off places with a remarkable 4-2 win at fellow strugglers VVV Venlo.

VVV led 2-0 through Brian Linssen (40) and Barry Maguire (51), but then conceded four goals in 12 minutes as substitute Mikolaj Lebedynski (53), Laurent Delorge (56), Mark-Jan Fledderus (58) and Arnaud Sutchuin (65) turned the game on its head.

Danilo Pereira was sent off just a minute after the fourth goal went in, but Roda held on for the win.


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