Ayew’s hat trick pushes Marseille past Ligue 1 struggler Ajaccio
Andre Ayew scored only the second hat-trick of his career as Marseille saw off bottom club Ajaccio 3-1 at Stade Velodrome on Friday.
Having not won a game in their last seven, the OM faithful were in no mood for mediocrity and the Ghana international wasted no time in putting his fans at ease with a goal inside the opening minute before adding a second on the hour mark.
Ajaccio’s Junior Tallo offered hope with his fifth of the season moments later, but Ayew put any chance of a comeback to bed with little under quarter of an hour to play.
Defeat for the visitors, a repeat scoreline of the reverse fixture in Corsica, leaves them 15 points adrift of safety at the foot of Ligue 1 with just 18 left to play for.
Marseille had not scored a first-half goal in their last seven outings, but Jose Anigo’s men soon ended that unwanted record when they raced into a first minute lead.
Lucas Mendes released Ayew with a ball from deep and the Ghana international kept his calm to coolly lift the ball over the onrushing Guillermo Ochoa to set Marseille on their way.
True to form, Ajaccio struggled early on and OM could easily have doubled their lead, but Ochoa made a smart stop from Ayew’s 18-yard effort before Andre-Pierre Gignac wasted a great opportunity – inexplicably heading wide from six yards after Dimitri Payet picked him out from a corner.
Despite their team leading, the Stade Velodrome crowd began to get more restless as the half wore on and Christian Bracconi’s Ajaccio almost made it a very uncomfortable half-time for the hosts when Benjamin Andre’s clever flick found Sigamary Diarra, but his 18-yard snapshot came back off the post with Steve Mandanda soundly beaten.
Marseille had a half-hearted penalty appeal turned down just after the restart when Gignac’s shot appeared to strike Laurent Bonnart’s hand before going wide, but Anigo’s men did not have to wait much longer to double their lead.
Payet was once again instrumental and it was his cross that found Ayew, who leapt highest to head beyond Ochoa with a clinical finish that helped settled the nerves of the restless natives.
That two-goal cushion lasted a matter of seconds when the seemingly offside Tallo controversially slotted home after Mehdi Mostefa’s blocked shot fell into his path.
However, with just under 15 minutes left to play, Ayew added his third of the match to give Marseille some daylight. Substitute Mathieu Valbuena’s free-kick found Brice Dja Djedje on the right and the full-back’s powerful cross was turned home by OM’s number 10 at the near post to wrap up the three points.