Ligue1: Marseille crash at home to struggling Ajaccio

Ligue1: Marseille crash at home to struggling Ajaccio

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Marseille lost for the first time in Ligue 1 this season as they fell 2-1 at home to Ajaccio, who started the day in last place.

Marseille crashed back to earth after crushing Sporting Lisbon 4-1 in midweek for their first Champions League win of the season.

In the middle of a demanding run, with a return match in Lisbon on Wednesday and a trip to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain next Sunday, coach Igor Tudor made seven changes to the starting lineup that beat Sporting.

His team took the lead after 15 minutes. Captain Dimitri Payet seized the ball with authority when the referee whistled for a handball by Ajaccio defender Cedric Avinel.

The 35-year-old playmaker converted to score his 100th Ligue 1 goal, 16 years after his first for Nantes.

According to statisticians Opta, he is the first player to reach both the 100 goals and 100 assists mark in Ligue 1. Opta credits him with 112 assists.

Payet and the Velodrome crowd were delighted. The happiness did not last long.

“We  started the game well but inexplicably after our first goal we took our foot off the gas a bit and they were able to take advantage of it,” said Payet.

Ajaccio striker Bevic Moussiti-Oko equalised with a low left-footed shot, his first Ligue 1 goal in the 25th minute.

Ajaccio had only scored five goals in nine matches before Saturday, but got some help when Argentine defender Leonardo Balerdi, who scored for Marseille on Tuesday, put the ball in his own net in the 47th minute.

Tudor then changed his entire attack, introducing Luis Suarez, Amine Harit and even former outcast Bamba Dieng, but the equaliser never came.

“We have a system where the coach rotates a lot, everyone gets playing time, we’re not going to complain about that, it’s up to us to do our best when we’re on the field,” said Payet.

Samuel Gigot’s deflection was saved by goalkeeper Benjamin Leroy with 15 minutes left and Ajaccio defended fiercely at the end.

Despite the defeat Payet was pleased to complete his century.

“It’s still an important milestone in a career, I had passed the 100 assists, I was missing this goal to make the double-double,” he said, borrowing a phrase from basketball. “It’s a personal satisfaction.”

Marseille stayed second but could be overtaken by Lens and Lorient on Sunday.

The defeat meant PSG stayed in first place ahead of their game at Reims on Saturday evening.

Ajaccio climbed off the bottom to 18th in the 20-team league, but could be back in last by the end of the weekend.



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