‘Great joy’ for Marcelo Bielsa and Ligue 1 pace-setters Marseille with another win
Marseille earned a club record-equalling eighth consecutive league win on Sunday, beating Toulouse 2-0 at the Stade Velodrome to move seven points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
First-half goals from Nicolas Nkoulou and the in-form Andre-Pierre Gignac proved enough for Marcelo Bielsa’s side to take all three points as OM matched their previous record for consecutive league victories set in 1937 and in 1998.
Marseille, who have won every game since starting the campaign with a draw and a defeat, are seven points above reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Caen on Sunday afternoon.
“I didn’t know Marseille had pulled off such a run of results before. It gives me great joy that we have managed it,” said Bielsa, for whom the only black mark on a fine afternoon came when he sat on his own cup of coffee in the technical area.
Marseille were looking to pick up where they left off before the international break and Bielsa’s starting line-up was unchanged from that which triumphed 2-1 at Caen a fortnight ago.
There was a new record crowd at the recently renovated Velodrome, with the figure of 61,846 beating the previous mark of 59,120 set in the 2007 rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and England.
The home fans almost saw their side fall behind early on against an in-form Toulouse as Steve Mandanda turned a Martin Braithwaite shot onto the bar.
But OM got the breakthrough in the 21st minute, Cameroon defender Nkoulou rising to convert a Dimitri Payet free-kick, the ball appearing to go into the net off his shoulder.
Florian Thauvin then shot just wide before the home side doubled their lead nine minutes before the interval as Gignac – who starred in France’s friendly win against Armenia in midweek – netted his 10th goal in as many league games this season.
Toulouse initially lost possession from a throw-in and then failed to clear a cross from the Marseille left, allowing Gignac to sweep the ball into the net against his old club.
“My team played very well,” added the always demanding Bielsa. “Toulouse only had one real opportunity, right at the start of the match.
“Our opponents were unable to run more than us, although there were moments where we were not so good because the way we play is very demanding.
“There were moments when the players struggled to keep up the tempo.”
The last time the south-coast club won eight league games in a row was in 1998, when their run was ended in a 2-1 defeat at Lyon, who will be Marseille’s opponents next weekend.
Yoann Gourcuff scored a double as Lyon extended their unbeaten run to six games with a 5-1 thrashing of 2012 champions Montpellier.
Nabil Fekir, Alexandre Lacazette and veteran Steed Malbranque also scored for the hosts, who moved up to fourth, one point off the Champions League places, while Siaka Tiene scored Montpellier’s consolation with a stunning free-kick.
Bordeaux missed the chance to go back above PSG into second as they failed to hold onto the lead given to them against Caen through a first-half penalty by giant Malian striker Cheick Diabate.
Caen equalised 13 minutes from the end when substitute Herve Bazile shaped to cross from the left and wrong-footed goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso, who had come off his line, before rolling the ball into the gaping goal.
On Friday, PSG came from behind to beat Lens 3-1 in a remarkable encounter played at the Stade de France which featured three red cards in the space of six second-half minutes.
On Saturday, Monaco warmed up for their Champions League clash with Benfica by beating Evian 2-0 at the Stade Louis II.
Saint-Etienne went fifth with a 1-0 win at Lorient, but Lille, who entertain Everton in the Europa League on Thursday, went down 2-1 at home to struggling Guingamp.
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Updated: October 20, 2014 04:00 AM