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Stalemate nudges Marseille closer to title

Marseille edged closer to the French league title on Friday after a 0-0 draw at closest rivals Auxerre allowed them to preserve their five-point lead with three matches left.

The result meant that Marseille could capture a ninth title, and first since 1992, on Wednesday when Auxerre face Lyon before Marseille tackle Rennes at their Stade Velodrome home.

“It was a tight match and very tactical,” admitted Marseille skipper Mamadou Niang, who had one of his side’s best chances in a game of few real openings.

“Auxerre were very solid, they are not an easy team to break through. Overall I think it was a good point for both sides.

“As far as the title is concerned, it isn’t mathematically sealed, anything can happen. There are three matches left to play. We still have to play Rennes and that won’t be easy.”

A goalless draw on Friday was hardly a surprise as the top of table clash featured the league’s two meanest defences – Auxerre have conceded just 26 goals all season while Marseille have shipped 32.

While Auxerre relied on the counter-attack, Marseille were left to create the best chances with Lucho (21min), Mamadou Niang (60) and Brandao (68) all going close.

For the home side, Benoit Pedretti (53) and Ireneusz Jelen (87) almost broke the deadlock.

Auxerre skipper Pedretti was yellow-carded in the 20th minute for a crunching, knee-high tackle on Mathieu Valbuena while Marseille’s Brandao was fortunate not be sent off for an elbow in the face of Cedric Hengbart.

“It was a good point to take against a fine team such as Auxerre even if we had three good chances,” said Marseille captain Didier Deschamps

“Auxerre had one at the end. We have stayed in the same position with the same points difference to second place. It’s a step closer although there’s a little disappointment in the dressing room that we didn’t win.”

Auxerre boss Jean Fernandez was happy to take positives from a run which has seen his team lose just once in the last 20 league outings.

“There weren’t many chances tonight and the draw was fair. We were playing the best team in the league. I only have one regret – we were missing a little technical quality and we could have caused them a few more problems,” he said.

“I am neither disappointed nor frustrated. We have taken four points from six off Marseille this season and they haven’t scored against us.”

Fri 30 April, 2010
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