Olympique de Marseille claimed Derby de France bragging rights over Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-1 victory at Stade Velodrome but more importantly kept themselves in the Ligue 1 title race by picking up all three points against their great rivals.
After making a whirlwind start to the match, Marseille opened the scoring through a fine Gabriel Heinze free kick, which bent up and over the wall, leaving visiting goalkeeper Gregory Coupet motionless.
OM’s advantage lasted a matter of minutes as les Parisiens hit back with their first meaningful foray of the match. Nene volleyed Christophe Jallet’s back post cross against the frame of the goal, but Clement Chantome showed poise with his follow-up to strike by the covering Heinze and into the net.
A rip-roaring half continued with the hosts quickly regaining the upper hand. Andre-Pierre Gignac is used to being the recipient of good wing service, but on this occasion he provided it, floating a lovely cross into the box that Andre Ayew headed downward in a textbook fashion to beat Coupet.
Marseille outlined their intent in the early stages of the game, offering several dangerous raids immediately. Benoit Cheyrou, in the team ahead of Lucho Gonzalez, who had suffered an armed robbery at his home little more than 48 hours before kick-off, had the first effort, though it was dragged tamely wide.
That strike set the tone for the early stages and it was no surprise when les Phoceens eventually moved ahead.
A landslide was threatened as Stephane Mbia, Gignac and Loic Remy all had openings in quick succession, but the Stade Velodrome was quietened by Chantome’s leveller.
Ayew brought the stadium back to life with his headed effort, but a dreadful error from Souleymane Diawara should have been punished by a PSG equaliser before the break. Nene, who was the subject of criticism last week, did his standing little good by clipping the resultant chance over Steve Mandanda but wide of the target.
Marseille’s direct running had been a feature of their attacking play in the first half, and soon after the break Ayew undertook a similar raid, managing to get his shot away despite being surrounded by four defenders. Coupet got down well to block.
PSG may have been subservient to their hosts for much of the opening period, but that would not be the case after the break. Les Rouge et Bleu controlled much of the ball but struggled to make headway into the home defence. Hoarau was thwarted from a tight angle by Mandanda and Jallet would fire a long range drive just past, but OM, who were themselves threatening on the break, were largely comfortable.
The frantic, open first period was firmly a thing of the past as the second was more calculated and methodical. Goal scoring chances were far less frequent, though substitute Lucho shot and Loic Remy shot over in quick succession for the hosts late on.
Les Parisiens were not without a threat, but they were reduced to hopeful efforts, such as a Ludovic Giuly drive that zipped a foot wide off the slick surface.
Marseille held out comfortably in the end, successfully avenging a 2-1 defeat suffered in Paris earlier this season. Didier Deschamps’ men now have their eyes firmly fixed on first placed Lille, who are four points clear at the head of the standings with 10 games remaining.