Montpellier stun leaders Marseille as Ligue 1 returns from winter break

Montpellier celebrate after Kevin Berigaud put the hosts in front just before the break vs. Ligue 1 leaders Marseille.

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Montpellier got back to winning ways in style with a 2-1 triumph over Ligue 1 leaders Marseille at the Stade de la Mosson.

A powerful 20-yard strike from Kevin Berigaud put the hosts in front just before the break, despite Marseille’s protestations that play should have been stopped for an injury, and Paul Lasne doubled their lead around the hour mark. Billel Omrani pulled one back for OM, but they were unable to avoid slipping to their second defeat in a week.

By contrast this was the hosts’ first win in four games in all competitions and Rolland Courbis’ side are now up to eighth place. Understandably the game started in a subdued manner following the pregame tributes to the victims of the terrorist attacks in France.

The uncertainty with which both sides went about their tasks was also not helped by a patchy pitch. It was the visitors, looking to bounce back from their shock Coupe de France exit to fourth-tier Grenoble, who were the first to establish any sort of rhythm though.

Right-back Brice Dja Djedje almost fashioned an opening in the 17th minute, but Andre-Pierre Gignac was too far behind play to make the most of his burst to the byline and inviting cross. Montpellier grew into the contest and Anthony Mounier missed the target with a stooping header minutes before the hosts took the lead – even though Marseille had considerable cause to feel aggrieved.

With Dja Djedje down injured 70 yards up field, after taking a knee to the head and having his hand trodden on, Montpellier burst forward with pace. Marseille retreated slowly, clearly frustrated by their opponents’ failure to put the ball out of play, and their anger was compounded when Berigaud picked it up 25 yards out and in space.

His exquisite first touch took it out of his feet and he arrowed a vicious strike into the far corner, past the despairing dive of Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. Gignac should have equalised shortly after the interval, but he blazed over after being put clean through by a woeful back pass.

His profligacy looked costly when Lasne smashed home Montpellier’s second in the 63rd minute after Mounier found him in acres of space at the far post. Marseille gave themselves hope with 22 minutes remaining as substitute Omrani improvised to hook a deep delivery from Dja Djedje into the net from an acute angle beyond the far post.

If anything it was Montpellier who went closest as the clock ran down, though, with Morgan Sanson stinging Mandanda’s palms from distance as Marseille missed the chance to increase their lead at the top.