Marseille were rocked by two late goals as Strasbourg snatched a point at the Velodrome
Paris (AFP) - Marseille conceded two late goals to draw 2-2 at home to Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Sunday having played for over an hour with 10 men after Leonardo Balerdi was sent off.
The Argentine centre-back saw red for bringing down Habib Diallo as the last defender on 29 minutes, but Marseille took the lead right after half-time through Chancel Mbemba.
Alexis Sanchez tucked away a penalty to put Marseille firmly in control, but Jean-Eudes Aholou struck twice in the final three minutes to stun the hosts and rescue a vital point for his side.
“I think today the main thing was the red card. The referee got it wrong and for me it wasn’t a sending off,” said Marseille coach Igor Tudor.
“As a former player I know the difference between contact and a push. He just touched him and the referee couldn’t tell the difference.”
Marseille are 10 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain and their grip on second place is under threat from Lens, now just two points behind.
Strasbourg kicked off at the Velodrome in 17th place but pulled themselves out of the relegation zone thanks to Aholou’s equaliser.
Lois Openda scored a five-minute first-half hat-trick as Lens thrashed Clermont 4-0 earlier in the day to climb back above Monaco into third.
Lens’ improbable title challenge had fizzled out after only one win in their past seven games but Openda, who had not scored since January 11, took advantage of the gifts from the home defence.
He broke between two defenders before popping the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper Mory Diaw after 30 minutes.
Three minutes later the Belgian striker pounced when Clermont’s Maxime Gonalons gave the ball away on the edge of his penalty area.
Alexis Claude-Maurice (C) receives a hug from Lois Openda after completing the scoring as Lens won at Clermont
Barely a minute after that, Openda benefited from another big mistake by central defender Mateusz Wieteska to add his third.
“There have always been strikers who don’t score for a while,” said Lens coach Franck Haise. “Lois is a striker who knows how to score, he has it in him. It’s good that it happened this afternoon.”
“After a dozen games without scoring, I’m not going to quibble about his inconsistency.”
In the second half Seko Fofana hit the post for Lens before substitute Alexis Claude-Maurice made it 4-0 from an Openda cross.
- Balogun propels Reims -
Monaco slumped to a 1-0 loss at home to Reims as Arsenal loanee and England Under-21 international Folarin Balogun scored his 16th league goal this term.
The hosts twice struck the post through Wissam Ben Yedder and Brazilian defender Vanderson before Balogun raced onto a pass from Alexis Flips and drilled low past Monaco goalkeeper Alexander Nubel.
Only Kylian Mbappe and Jonathan David have scored more goals than Folarin Balogun this season in Ligue 1
Reims are unbeaten in Ligue 1 since Will Still took over as coach in October, winning for the fourth time in five games and making it 19 without defeat.
They move up to eighth and to within four points of the European places.
Toulouse won 2-0 at bottom side Angers and Lorient beat Troyes by the same scoreline.
Nantes grabbed a late equaliser through Egypt forward Mostafa Mohamed to draw 2-2 against Nice, while Montpellier defeated Ajaccio 1-0.