Dimitri Payet goal gives Marseille victory


Marseille returned to the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday evening with a 2-1 win at home to St Etienne. The hosts got off to an impressive start and goals from Gilbert Imbula and Dimitri Payet had them two ahead before the half-hour. Jonathan Brison pulled one back early in the second half, but OM finished the stronger to go two points clear of Bordeaux, who had won by the same score earlier in the day, at the top of the table. Marseille started well and Imbula fired them in front with a fierce right-footed drive from an Andre Ayew pass. Alaixys Romao then won the ball off the St Etienne defence and freed Payet, whose left-footed shot was well saved by Stephane Ruffier. But Payet had the goalkeeper beaten in the 27th minute, Ayew winning the ball on the right and crossing for his team-mate to slot home. The visitors finally showed some signs of life as Allan Saint-Maximin's shot from the edge of the area brought a block out of keeper Steve Mandanda. But Marseille almost made it three before the break, Payet seeing his curling free-kick pushed away by Ruffier. St Etienne came out for the second half in far more determined mood and got a goal back in the 53rd minute. Yohan Mollo freed Saint-Maximin, who crossed toward the far post where Brison volleyed in from close range. Saint-Maximin then had header nodded away by Romain Alessandrini as the away side sought a leveller. Marseille could sense the momentum shifting and they battled to regain the upper hand. Payet was still causing problems for the visiting back line, setting up Alessandrini and then Andre Pierre Gignac for shots both of which Ruffier blocked. The St Etienne keeper continued to keep his side in the match as he denied Gignac again, keeping out his first-time shot from Abdelaziz Barrada's cross. The final chance of the game fell to the visitors in time added on, but Max Gradel's effort was saved by Mandanda.