Nice secure a 1-0 victory at Marseille, denting hopes of French frontrunners
March 9, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
MARSEILLE, France -- Marseille's Champions League hopes were dented on Friday as it fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Nice in the French league.
Valentin Eysseric scored the only goal of the south coast derby match when he curled in a 20-meter free kick in the 66th minute after being fouled by Rod Fanni.
"It's a bad deal for us," Marseille coach Jose Anigo said. "We can't talk anymore about third place, we have to stop that now. We'll continue to give it our all but we mustn't ask ourselves those kind of questions anymore when we've lost two matches in a row.
"We didn't play badly tonight but we weren't clinical. We lacked nothing but that finishing touch."
Marseille remained provisionally fifth, six points behind third-placed Lille, which hosts Montpellier on Sunday. It can also be overtaken by Lyon and Reims this weekend.
Nice, which had picked up just one point in its previous four matches, moved level with 10th-placed Toulouse.
"Today they were under more pressure than us," Nice coach Claude Puel said. "They had to win to remain in the European places. It was important to play with a lot of calm ... We survived a storm in the first half. But we weren't really in danger in the second. It's really good to get the win, we've had so many disappointments, so many matches which we finished badly."
Despite missing star striker Andre-Pierre Gignac — who was suspended — Marseille dominated and had the better chances. It should have taken an early lead when Andre Ayew's fierce effort was well saved by Nice goalkeeper David Ospina.
Marseille also felt it should have had a penalty when the ball hit Gregoire Puel's arm as the Nice manager's son slipped under pressure from Ayew.
It was Nice's third win over Marseille this season but only its second at the Stade Velodrome in nearly 30 years.
Boos rang out at the Velodrome at the end as the home fans made their disappointment clear.