Hughes won’t get carried away

Rod Fanni’s 94th-minute goal kept Marseille’s Ligue 1 title

challenge alive with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Valenciennes at

the Stade Velodrome.

Starting the weekend eight points adrift of leaders Paris

Saint-Germain, Marseille knew they could not afford another slip

after a disappointing run of form since the winter break.

But despite dominating the match from start to finish, Marseille

could not find a breakthrough until deep into injury time when

Fanni beat his man to fire a low shot into the goal and relieve the

pressure.

The win sends Marseille into second place, at least until Lyon

face a tricky trip to Bordeaux on Sunday.

Nice moved up to fourth in the congested scramble for European

places with a 1-0 win over Bastia.

Neal Maupay scored the only goal of the game just after the hour

mark, condemning Bastia to a defeat that leaves the Corsicans just

three points above the bottom three.

Lorient are seventh, three points behind Nice, after beating

Evian 2-1.

Jeremie Aliadiere opened the scoring from the penalty spot three

minutes before half-time after he was fouled by Ebert Betao.

Kevin Monnet-Paquet doubled the lead in the 77th minute with a

powerful close-range finish, and although Betao soon got one back

with an outstanding volley, Lorient hung on.

Toulouse scored twice in the final five minutes to deny Troyes a

much-needed win in a barnstorming finish to their 2-2 draw.

Troyes had grabbed the lead with two late goals of their own as

substitute Mohamed Yattara slotted home from close range in the

78th minute before Benjamin Nivet grabbed a second five minutes

later.

But Eden Ben Basat got one back in the 86th minute, striking a

post but then getting the ball back from Aymen Abdennour to make

sure second time around, while Etienne Didot lobbed Yohann

Thuram-Ulien to level in the 88th minute.

Troyes do at least move off the foot of the table, four points

from safety, thanks to Nancy’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of

Montpellier.

Emanuel Herrera got the only goal in the 34th minute, heading

home Anthony Mounier’s cross to send Montpellier ninth, still only

four points from fourth place.

Brest and Ajaccio shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Florian Raspentino put Brest ahead after only 11 minutes, firing

a strong shot beyond Guillermo Ochoa, but Dennis Oliech levelled in

the 71st minute from close range.

Pools leapfrogged over Portsmouth with two goals in the closing

minutes to complete the most unlikely of turnarounds at Victoria

Park.

Peter Hartley’s late header cancelled out Martin Rowland’s

seventh-minute penalty opener. Then, four minutes into five minutes

of injury time, substitute Luke James drilled in a low volley to

make it five games without defeat for Pools.

“We scored in the 94th minute – fantastic. It was a fantastic

strike on the half-volley and it’s so nice to see if fly in,”

admitted Hughes.

“I felt we deserved something and had them hemmed in. They would

only get something on the counter-attack and we got plenty in the

box. Fair play to the guys for the spirit. The ground was bouncing

at the end, that’s what we want.

“We don’t get carried away, just enjoy the taste of winning. It

keeps the run going and it’s important we do that.”

Pools have won four of their last nine games and sit eight

points shy of League One safety. It is still a tall order, but one

they are now relishing.

“I got pelters from one guy behind the dugouts all day – when we

scored the winner I got a kiss!” Hughes laughed. “But the fans go

away delighted, enjoy an extra pint, and it makes everyone feel

better for it.

“It’s so pleasing, the players have responded to the challenge

ahead of us. All I keep saying is ‘give yourself a chance’.

“We are off the bottom, there’s some big games to come and we

get carried away when we score, but it’s nice so go and enjoy

it.”