Marseille slips to 4th straight league defeat

JEROME PUGMIRE AP Sports Writer Published:

PARIS (AP) -- Marseille's alarming slump continued when it lost for the fourth straight league game without scoring as Benjamin Andre's last-minute goal sealed a 1-0 win for Ajaccio on Friday.

Marseille wasted several chances to score against inspired Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, and Andre pounced to turn in a cross from the right to leave Marseille reeling ahead of its trip to Inter Milan on Wednesday in the Champions League.

"We're going to have score goals if we want to win matches. We had chances, but we didn't score. You're always at the mercy of a goal when it's like that," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said. "We knew it wouldn't be easy here against a highly motivated team. We played well at times but we were lacking in realism. In the end we couldn't hold on to a 0-0 draw.

"In football, you have to be good in attack and good in defense, and we were neither."

Marseille, which is in eighth place and slipping out of contention even for a Europa League place, will now travel to Inter low on confidence for the second leg of their last-16 match as it defends a 1-0 lead.

"We're going to have to recover quickly from this because the players are disappointed," Deschamps said. "But it's such a big competition that we won't have any problem being motivated for it."

Marseille, the champion two seasons ago, is eight points third-place Lille, which has a game in hand, and is looking increasingly unlikely to earn a European Cup place for next season. Marseille, however, is still involved in both domestic Cup competitions.

Ajaccio's remarkable turnaround continued as it moved clear of the relegation zone and up to 13th place.

On Sunday, leader Paris Saint-Germain travels to play Dijon, while Montpellier, one point behind in second place, hosts Caen.

Deschamps got a boost with top scorer Loic Remy and winger Mathieu Valbuena shaking off their injuries. But ahead of the Inter game, Deschamps preferred not to take any risks and named them both among the substitutes.

Marseille started the game with a point to prove and striker Brandao went close with a half-volley that flew just over.

The Brazilian went close again in the 14th minute, when he forced Ochoa into a point-blank save, and strike partner Jordan Ayew headed just over from Morgan Amalfitano's cross as Marseille started to get on top.

Ajaccio struggled to get on the ball, but midfielder Johan Cavalli tested goalie Steve Mandanda with a stinging shot in the 21st after cutting in from the left.

Ayew missed a great chance a minute before the break when he ran onto Benoit Cheyrou's pass and his low shot flashed past the post.

Tempers flared at the interval, with Deschamps having to drag Amalfitano away from defender Damien Tiberi as the two squared up to each other near the tunnel. Amalfitano had hacked Tiber's legs away moments earlier in an ugly incident.

Remy came on for Amalfitano at the start of the second half, and Valbuena replaced Cheyrou after 63 minutes.

With five minutes remaining, Valbuena released Brandao down the left and his pinpoint cross gave Ayew the perfect chance to win the match, but Ochoa denied him with superb stop on his line.

Marseille was punished for that miss when Andre met Cavalli's cross and beat Mandanda from close range at the near post.

There was pushing and shoving between both sets of players at the final whistle, with the diminutive Valbuena in the thick of the action.