Gignac scores winner as Marseille beats Toulouse
Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac came off the bench to score the winner as Marseille won 1-0 at nine-man Toulouse to move provisionally level on points with French leader Lyon on Saturday.
Toulouse had two players sent off in the first half but frustrated Marseille until Gignac cut inside the penalty area and curled a superb shot into the top right corner in the 68th minute.
Andre Ayew missed a penalty in the 40th after his younger brother Jordan Ayew was fouled by Franck Tabanou, who was sent off four minutes later for a wild lunge on defender Rod Fanni.
"It's been a while since we had won games in a row and we've done that now, but there are lessons to be learned,'' Andre Ayew said. "We're going to have to start finishing better because we had a lot of chances and we didn't put them away. It's a bit frustrating.''
Left back Cheik M'Bengue was red-carded in the 27th for a dangerous tackle on Marseille winger Morgan Amalfitano, who was replaced by Gignac after the break.
Marseille is second on goal difference, while Paris Saint-Germain is three points behind the top two. But PSG can move into first place if it beats Lyon on Sunday as it has a better goal difference.
Nice climbed up to fourth place with a hard-fought 3-2 win against Evian, which led 2-0 within 15 minutes thanks to forward Yannick Sagbo and veteran midfielder Cedric Barbosa. But Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich continued his rich vein of form with two more goals to draw Nice level, before 16-year-old forward Neal Maupay grabbed the winner in injury time.
Earlier, Toulouse had the first attack of a dull first half and right back Pavle Ninkov threatened with a glancing header that was cleared near the line by Marseille center back Lucas Mendes.
Even with the extra man, Marseille struggled to open up Toulouse's well-marshaled defense until Joey Barton's clever pass sent Jordan Ayew clean through, and Tabanou kicked at his ankles for a clear penalty.
Andre Ayew took a short run up and goalkeeper Ali Ahamada palmed the ball away, although he clearly moved off his line before the kick was struck. The loose ball fell to Barton, lurking on the edge of the penalty area, and his curling shot just missed the top corner.
Moments before the break, Ahamada was twice called into action as he saved shots from Barton and Mendes in quick succession.
Amalfitano was clearly struggling after M'Bengue's foul and Gignac came on at the start of the second half for only his second substitute appearance following seven weeks out with a foot injury.
"When I left the team I was full of confidence and now I'm returning with confidence. Things are made easy for me, there's a great team spirit in the team,'' Gignac said. "We struggled a bit at the start of the game, and then we got two refereeing decisions which helped us.''
Ahamada had a fine match and denied Gignac moments after he came on with a leaping save, and made two more stops near the end to deny Marseille forward Loic Remy.
"We can be proud of ourselves, we played with nine men for 45 minutes and we didn't get our reward,'' Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue said. "But there's a lot to take from this match because we did well.''
In Saturday's other results, it was: Montpellier 4, Bastia 0; Reims 1, Lille 1; Sochaux 1, Brest 2, and Troyes 3, Ajaccio 2.
Defending champion Montpellier's third straight league win moved it up to ninth place, with midfielders Marco Estrada and Younes Belhanda, winger Anthony Mounier and striker Emanuel Herrera getting a goal each.
Mid-table Lille needed a late equalizer from winger Dimitri Payet to scrape a draw after center half Anthony Weber gave struggling Reims an early lead.
Sochaux remains in the relegation zone after failing to protect a 1-0 lead. Striker Cedric Bakambu put Sochaux ahead in the 60th, but midfielder Kamel Chafni equalized four minutes later and Israel striker Eden Ben Basat scored the winner in the 78th.
Troyes' win moved it provisionally off bottom place ahead of Sunday's games, but the home side was left hanging on as Ajaccio scored in the 90th and again in the second minute of injury time.
Nancy hosts Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne faces Lorient in Sunday's other games.
Rennes beat Valenciennes 2-0 in Friday's game.