Marseille twice pegged back in 2-2 draw with Nice


PARIS (AP) -Marseille moved provisionally top of the French league yet missed the chance to put more pressure on Paris Saint-Germain when it was twice pegged back in a 2-2 home draw with Nice on Sunday.

Ghana winger Andre Ayew scored for the second successive league match to put Marseille ahead in the 40th minute, but Argentine forward Dario Cvitanich equalized soon after halftime.

France winger Mathieu Valbuena restored Marseille's lead midway through the second half, only for Nice winger Fabrice Abriel to level in the 88th against his former club.

It was not a good day for Marseille, with striker Loic Remy limping off toward the end with a thigh injury, and Valbuena missing a penalty midway through the first half, when his shot was saved by goalkeeper David Ospina.

"It was our first penalty of the season," said Marseille coach Elie Baup, justifying Valbuena's decision to take it. "There were several candidates to take it. Mathieu is among those, and then it's a question of feeling. You're talking about players who are internationals, it's not primary school."

The draw puts Marseille one point ahead of PSG, which was playing away to defending champion Montpellier later Sunday.

Also later, Lyon was at struggling Sochaux and Lorient hosted Bordeaux. A win would move Lyon above Marseille and possibly into the top spot if PSG fails to win.

At Stade Velodrome, Marseille showed it has regained its scoring touch - with six goals in the past three games - but was let down by sloppy defending.

Valbuena, Marseille's best player this season, set up the first goal when his cross was met by Ayew's header.

Marseille drew 2-2 at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Europa League on Thursday, despite twice taking the lead, and again paid for some poor defending to allow Nice back in the match.

"It's a blow for us. We didn't do the right things and paid for it," Marseille center half Nicolas N'Koulou said. "Maybe the Europa League game weighed on us a bit, but we're not hiding from the fact it's two points lost."

Nice equalized in the 51st when Marseille's defenders failed to cut out Eric Bautheac's cross from the left, allowing Cvitanich the space to beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a diving header.

Marseille went ahead again in the 68th minute when Ayew's shot hit the crossbar, bounced off the body of Ospina and fell invitingly for Valbuena to finish, despite Ospina's best efforts to keep the ball out.

Ayew then combined with his younger brother Jordan Ayew, whose powerful shot from 20 yards went just over as Marseille pushed for a third goal.

But Nice kept pushing forward. Forward Alexy Bosetti got behind the Marseille defense and his cross to the back just missed midfielder Camel Meriem, but Abriel was on hand to fire the ball into the opposite corner.

"When you're winning with five minutes to go, the idea is to put your foot on the ball, move it wide and not let your opponent get on the front foot," Baup said. "Once again it's a feeling of frustration. It hasn't been the best of weeks."

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