Marseille draws 2-2 with Lyon in French league

Paris: Marseille and Lyon both lost ground in the French league title race by splitting the points in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou fired into the bottom corner to open the scoring in the 16th minute. Brazilian striker Brandao volleyed home a cross from Morgan Amalfitano to double Marseille’s lead in the 34th.

Lyon pulled one back with a close-range effort from Bafetimbi Gomis in the 36th before leveling from an own goal by Marseille center back Souleymane Diawara in the 45th.

“We got off to a poor start,” Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said. “We conceded two goals that were a bit stupid. We could have avoided the first goal.

“Both Lyon and Marseille don’t have much maneuvering room left.”

Lyon remained in fourth place, 10 points behind leader Paris Saint-Germain and one clear of Marseille.

“It’s a big disappointment for us,” Marseille midfielder Alou Diarra said. “We paid dearly for lacking focus for a split second and allowed Lyon to rally."

“We still have to go and get points to finish at least in third place.”

PSG defeated Evian 3-1 on Saturday to keep a three-point lead over second-place Montpellier at the top of the league.

Also Saturday, it was: Montpellier 1, Brest 0; Nancy 0, Rennes 0; Bordeaux 2, Toulouse 0; Dijon 1, Valenciennes 2; and Ajaccio 1, Nice 1.

Three games were postponed because of a frozen pitch following a cold snap.

Saturday’s match between Saint-Etienne and Lorient was abandoned after 10 minutes. Sunday’s matches pitting Sochaux against Lille and Caen against Auxerre were called off, too.

The French league has not set a new date for the postponed matches.

Marseille created the first chance in the second minute when fullback Jeremy Morel charged down the left flank to make a low cross for Morgan Amalfitano, who controlled the ball before curling a shot over the bar.

Lyon gave the hosts a scare in the ninth but Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda parried the point-blank shot from Gomis. Mandanda then intercepted a cross for an unmarked Lisandro Lopez in the following minute.

Marseille scored from a controversial play. Charles Kabore sent a ball over the top for Brandao, who missed his first touch. But Cheyrou pounced on a poor clearance from Lyon left back Aly Cissokho to flick home. However, TV replays showed Brandao was offside.

Brandao escaped Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti’s marking to add a second goal.

But Lyon cut Marseille’s lead two minutes later. Jimmy Briand redirected a corner with a backheel flick, and Gomis at the far post slammed the ball in.

Lyon equalized on the stroke of halftime when Diawara turned into his own net a cross from Cissokho.

“We can have regrets tonight,” Mandanda said. “We lacked focus when we led 2-0. We had this impression that the game was over. But unfortunately Lyon scored its first goal too quickly. Up 2-0, we must be able to protect that lead for a longer time.”

Marseille kept pressing to score the winning goal, but goalkeeper Lloris turned a volley from Diarra in the 61st around the post before saving a curling shot from Loic Remy in the 68th.

Cheyrou teed up Remy in the 87th, but the France forward’s volley lacked the power to beat Lloris.

Mandanda salvaged a point for Marseille with a reflex save in stoppage time, blocking Lopez’s shot from seven yards.

“Equalizing just before halftime was important,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said. “My team showed character. We lacked a bit of luck at the end, we could have taken the three points on the last chance.”

Bureau Report

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