PARIS (Reuters) – Olympique Marseille conceded a penalty and finished with nine men as their poor Ligue 1 run of form continued on Sunday with a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Evian Thonon Gaillard.
Andre-Pierre Gignac put the visitors in front with a superb half-volley in the 50th minute but Yannick Sagbo levelled for the hosts from the penalty spot nine minutes later following right back Kassim Abdallah’s dismissal for a foul on Saber Khlifa.
Marseille, who had Joey Barton sent off when they lost at home to bottom club Nancy last weekend, were reduced to nine men after Jordan Ayew picked up two bookings in two minutes, seconds after replacing Mathieu Valbuena.
"When you already received a yellow card, you have to take care and behave," Marseille coach Elie Baup told French channel beIN Sport, hitting out at Ayew, who earned his second card for a rough challenge on Pavel Ninkovic.
Marseille, who were tied on points with leaders Paris St Germain after 19 games, stay third on 43 from 24 games, eight adrift of the capital club who defeated Bastia 3-1 on Friday.
Olympique Lyon can close the gap with PSG to three points by beating 2011 champions Lille at home later on Sunday (2000 GMT).
"We never said we were fighting for the title. Our goal remains the fifth place albeit our good results until the winter break had given us hope of a top-three finish," Baup said in light of Marseille’s poor recent form.
Marseille, who occupy the third Champions League qualifying spot, are three points ahead of St Etienne in fourth and Stade Rennes, who climbed up to fifth with a 2-0 home win over Toulouse, in 12th.
Forward Romain Alessandrini, who joined France for the first time this week but did not feature in their 2-1 loss to Germany, took advantage of goalkeeper Ali Ahamada’s blunder to break the deadlock in the 79th minute with his tenth league goal this term.
Striker Mevlut Erding doubled the lead from close range five minutes later for the home team, who have scored two goals in all their five last games in all competitions.
Evian climbed to 17th on 23 points, level with 18th-placed Sochaux in the 20-club table.
(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Clare Fallon and Tom Pilcher)
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