Paris: Marseille collapsed dramatically from a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Caen at the Stade Velodrome on Friday in a defeat that struck a major blow for the south coast giants` title hopes.
Andre Ayew and Andre-Pierre Gignac seemed to have sealed the deal for Marcelo Bielsa`s team but Caen proved once again they were not to be underestimated.
Goals from Nicolas Seube and Emiliano Sala, three minutes apart, and Nicolas Benezet`s winner four minutes from time extended the Normandy giantkillers` unbeaten run to seven.
"I assume full responsibility for the fact that the team is unbalanced, I can`t blame the players. My game is to attack but that doesn`t mean we should defend badly," Bielsa said.
The shock result kept Marseille in third, two points behind Paris Saint-Germain and four behind leaders Lyon, who both now have a game in hand.
"I can`t ignore the points we lost but I will not consider a goal unattainable as long as it is still mathematically within our reach," shrugged Bielsa.
The unscripted reverse came at the end of a difficult week for OM with speculation over Bielsa`s future at the Velodrome and reports of a clash between the Argentine coach and striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.
The France forward was benched but his replacement Michy Batshuayi, who scored a brace as a substitute last weekend in the 2-2 draw with St Etienne, failed to score.
The young Belgian even missed a penalty, just two minutes into the game when Remy Vercoutre dived to his right to prevent Batshuayi from opening the scoring.
Two minutes into first half stoppage time, Payet inherited a good ball from Benjamin Mendy. Just outside the box, the French international unleashed a powerful strike that Vercoutre could only deflect into Ayew`s path.
Gignac added a 15th goal to his Ligue 1 tally from close range, just three minutes after coming off the bench on the hour mark.
But Caen then pulled one back via Seube in the 67th minute.
And they were level three minutes later when Sala won his one-on-one against Mandanda.
But the best was yet to come. Under pressure, Caen resorted to counter-attacks, a tactic that proved effective when Benezet beat Brice Dja Djedje to sink a wonderful strike in the top right corner with just four minutes to go.
"We showed we had the spirit," Caen coach Patrice Garande reflected.
"We have success on our side at the moment. Everything is working out because we are all united."
On Saturday, Lyon travel to lacklustre Lille.
In a late Sunday game, PSG face a tough challenge as they head to fourth-placed Monaco, fresh from their stunning 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in the Champions League.