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Marseille held as Ligue 1 big boys struggle for goals

Marseille followed up their mid-week Champions League elimination with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

The result extended the Mediterranean side's winless streak to four games, having drawn 2-2 at home to Lille and lost 3-2 at home to Lorient prior to the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday night.

The point takes Marseille up to second, ahead of Nice on goal difference, but means that they remain six points behind leaders Lyon.

Marseille's Steve Mandana was the first goalkeeper to be called into action at Stade Municipal when he pushed away a firm header from Toulouse central midfielder Etienne Capoue after 15 minutes.

Eric Gerets's side bossed possession in the first half and came closest to breaking the deadlock when Mamadou Niang's close-range effort from Ronald Zubar's flick-on was kept out by Toulouse keeper Cedric Carrasso.

Marseille's frustrations mounted as the game wore on, with Gerets introducing Mamadou Samassa and Mathieu Valbuena in place of Hatem Ben Arfa and Karim Ziani just before the hour in a bid to bolster his side's attacking impetus.

The visitors piled on the pressure in the game's closing stages, with Valbuena flashing a volley wide in the last minute of normal time, but Toulouse held firm.

Elsewhere, Saint Etienne brought a seven-game losing streak in the league to an end with a 2-1 victory at Nancy that fired them out of the relegation zone.

The visitors took the lead after just seven minutes when on-loan Portuguese midfielder Paulo Machado fired in a thumping 30-yard free-kick that deceived home keeper Gennaro Bracigliano.

Three minutes before the break Les Verts made their first-half dominance count when David Gigliotti slotted home after Bracigliano had saved from France international striker Bafetimbi Gomis.

Things took a turn for the worse for the home side when Bracigliano was dismissed for up-ending Gigliotti inside the penalty area in the 55th minute, but Gomis wasted the chance to make the game safe by putting his spot-kick wide.

Nancy set up a nervy last fifteen minutes when Issiar Dia got away from Blaise Matuidi before finishing neatly past Jeremie Janot, but it wasn't enough to prevent Alain Perrin from claiming his first win as St Etienne coach.

Fourth faces fifth in the big game of the weekend later on Sunday evening, with Rennes welcoming Paris St Germain to the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

In Saturday's action, a depleted Lyon side were held to a goalless draw at home to Valenciennes, who sank to the bottom of the table despite the point earned at a sodden Stade Gerland.

Second-placed Nice missed out on the chance to close the gap on Lyon when their game at home to Grenoble was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, while last season's runners-up Bordeaux drew 0-0 at second-bottom Sochaux.

Sun 30 November, 2008
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