PARIS (AP) – Marseille pulled off a hasty 2-0 home win over last-place Dijon on Sunday, a result that reaffirmed their place in the fight for a Europa League ticket after their rivals gave up points at the end of week.
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Spanish central defender Álvaro González, right, scores Marseille’s second goal in a French league duel against Dijon at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, France, on Sunday, April 4, 2021. (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)
The triumph brought Marseille to sixth place in the French league table, one point behind Lens, who in fifth place has a pass to the next Europa League season for now. Rennes and Montpellier fell three points behind Marseille as they tied in their matches on Sunday, a day after Lens was held back by Lyon in a 1-1 draw.
It was the third victory in four games for Marseille’s new coach, Argentine Jorge Sampaoli, who at times looked frustrated at the performance of his pupils.
Dijon is winless this year, in a slump of 11 straight losses in the French league and three more draws. Despite facing relatively weak opponents, Marseille struggled to create opportunities in the first half.
Seconds before the break, Argentine central defender Leonardo Balerdi, who plays for Marseille on loan from Borussia Dortmund, broke the tie with a Dimitri Payet header off a corner kick.
Payet left everything ready for the second goal, achieved by another central defender, when the Spanish Álvaro González defined after a free kick taken by the French midfielder in the 78th minute.
Montpellier had to settle for a 1-1 draw on their visit to Angers, while Rennes required a closing goal from striker Serhou Guirassy to draw 2-2 with Reims.
In other matches on Sunday, Lorient beat Brest 1-0; Strasbourg defeated Bordeaux 3-2; Nice beat Nantes 2-1; and Saint-Etienne won 2-0 at Nimes.
Twenty-five years after lifting their eighth French league title, Nantes are in 19th place and in serious relegation trouble with just seven games left in the season.