Mar 15, 2013 at 7.30pm UK at ​Stade Velodrome

Live Commentary: Marseille 0-0 Ajaccio - as it happened

Live Commentary: Marseille 0-0 Ajaccio - as it happened
© AP Photos
Sports Mole's live text commentary of Marseille's frustrating draw with Ajaccio.

Marseille went into tonight's Ligue 1 clash with Ajaccio needing a victory to keep their faint hopes of challenging for the title alive.

Elie Baup's side had chances to break the deadlock but Modou Sougou and Andre-Pierre Gignac were unable to take advantage.

Ajaccio held firm in the closing stages to claim a credible point and dent Marseille's chase for Champions League qualification.

Here, look back at Sports Mole's coverage of a keenly-contested clash in Southern France with our minute-by-minute commentary below.

7.02pmHello French football fans and thanks for joining Sports Mole as round 29 of Ligue 1 gets underway at the Stade Velodrome. Marseille have fallen seven points behind Paris Saint-Germain and desperately need a win tonight against an improving Ajaccio.

7.04pmNot only are Marseille struggling to catch Lyon and PSG, they now face a real fight to keep third place and secure Champions League qualification. Lille, Saint-Etienne and Nice are now all within striking distance and waiting for Elie Baup's men to slip up.

7.06pmAjaccio have endured a tough time on their travels ahead of tonight's trip to the Velodrome, failing to win any of their last seven away games. Albert Emon is a former player and coach at Marseille and will be aiming to guide the his charges to only their second ever win at Marseille this evening.

7.08pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! The starting XIs are in from Southern France and the biggest surprise comes out wide for Marseille. Jordan Ayew has been left on the bench, with Modou Sougou chosen ahead of the Ghanaian. We will bring you both starting lineups in the next few minutes.

7.11pmMARSEILLE: Mandanda, Fanni, N'Koulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Romao, Sougou, Valbuena, A.Ayew, Gignac

AJACCIO: Ochoa, Chalme, Zubar, Poulard, Bouhours, Mostefa, Lasne, Cavalli, Belghazouani, Sammaritano, Mutu

7.13pmMarseille are still without Morgan Amalfitano, who is working his way back from a knee injury. Andre Ayew and Mathieu Valbuena will be under pressure to create chances for Andre-Pierre Gignac, who was starved of service against Lyon last Sunday in a tame 0-0 draw.

7.15pmJoey Barton continues in central midfield, where he has become a mainstay for Marseille since November. Baffling attempts at a French accent aside, the OM fans have taken to the Queens Park Rangers loanee due to his committed style, strong work ethic and effective distribution.

7.17pmAjaccio are without two first-team regulars through suspension, with Benjamin André and Dennis Oliech both banned. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzii is also still sidelined with an ankle problem for the visitors, who will look to Adrian Mutu for inspiration on the counter.

7.20pmTonight marks a special milestone for Marseille talisman Mathieu Valbuena. The diminutive playmaker makes his 200th league appearance for OM after spending the last seven years at the Velodrome.

7.22pmBoth managers have been in a reflective mood ahead of tonight's match, with Baup admitting that Marseille will struggle to keep their slim hopes of Ligue 1 glory alive. Baup believes the club's main priority should now be securing a Champions League place by staying in the top three.

7.24pmHere is a taste of what Baup had to say to reporters earlier this week.

"OM are a big club. There needs to be ambition there somewhere," said Baup. "We need to do as well as we possibly can. The real objective, from both a financial and a sporting viewpoint, is to finish fifth, but if we can hold on to third place we will try to do so. Our sporting ambition is to stay on the podium."

7.26pmAjaccio boss Emon has insisted that his reunion with Marseille fans will not impact upon his side's performance tonight.
He told reporters: "I experienced a lot of things at Marseille, but that's in the past now. As soon as the game begins my focus will be on trying to do the necessary to get a result. We have qualities and can cause them problems."

7.28pmPREDICTION! Just before both teams take the field in France there is just time for a reasoned prediction of tonight's match. Marsille may have struggled in recent weeks but their home form has remained reasonably consistent, and I fully expect that to continue this evening. Ajaccio will frustrate them for long spells but expect OM to come through with a 2-0 win and three precious points.

7.30pmRonald Zubar has just received a terrific reception from the Marseille crowd. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender joined OM as a young prospect but never quite fulfilled his potential. Zubar is a key player for Ajaccio and will need a big performance to keep his former club at bay this evening.

2 minMarseille get the match underway on a cold and windy night in Southern France. Andre Ayew immediately breaks down the left and crosses for Sougou, but his lofted pass is just too high to meet the midfielder's run at the far post.

4 minBarton wins back possession as Marseille quickly take a firm grip on the match without troubling a deep Ajaccio back four. Patience will be the key for the Champions League chasers this evening if a breakthrough does not come early on.

6 minValbuena tries a clever chip over the top to Gignac, but the experienced Chalme reads the danger and intercepts with a strong header. Mutu looks isolated for the visitors in the early stages despite the best efforts of Cavalli from deep.

8 minRod Fanni breaks from right and combines with Sougou to find space out wide, but has to settle for a corner kick after his low cross was intercepted by Poulard.

10 minCHANCE! Sougou's flick at the near post has somehow evaded Ayew's late lunge as Ajaccio survive their first set piece in unconvincing fashion. That was a half-chance for Marseille which would have opened up the match inside 10 minutes.

12 minZubar gets involved for the first time tonight to prevent Valbuena advancing down the right-hand side with a forceful challenge. Soon after Mutu gets a stern warning from the referee for a late lunge of his own. The Romanian veteran does well to escape without a yellow card.

14 minSHOT! Valbuena tests Ochoa for the first time tonight with a strike from range. The goalkeeper does enough to send a rising drive wide with a firm punch.

16 minJanuary signing Sougou is under pressure to replace Loic Remy at Marseille but has started wide of a front-three tonight. He comes within inches of meeting Barton's long ball but narrowly fails to control a 40-yard pass.

19 minSHOT! A spectacular effort from Gignac flashes wide as Marseille continue to pile on the pressure. His overhead kick on the turn is well struck but around three yards wide of the far post.

21 minSAVE! Ajaccio race up the other end and test Mandanda on the counter with a break down the left. Sammaritano takes advantage of a collision between Fanni and N'Koulou to wriggle free and shoot towards the near post, but the Marseille keeper is down quickly to catch the low drive with relative ease.

23 minThe visitors are growing in confidence and manage to keep possession for a prolonged spell on the left once again. Eventually Gignac and Sougou drop into their own half to win possession and get Marseille moving in the right direction.

25 minSHOT! Valbuena sends a free kick high and wide of a packed penalty area as frustration grows around a raucous but sparsely populated Velodrome. The home side quickly get back on the attack through Gignac, who forces Ochoa to make a low save with his curling drive from 25 yards.

28 minA compact Ajaccio defence looks difficult to break down as Marseille struggle to get their wide men involved. Ayew in particular has barely been involved since a forward burst inside three minutes.

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31 minAnother wayward pass from deep gifts Ajaccio a chance to regroup in defence. This time Morel is the guilty party as Marseille continue to probe without creating a genuine clear-cut opportunity.

33 minBarton brings down Cavalli and Ajaccio are given a free kick around 30 yards from goal. Lasne sends in a floated cross which is easily headed clear by Lucas Mendes.

35 minPENALTY APPEAL! Marseille have a spot-kick claim turned away after neat work in the box from Sougou. His backheel found a darting Valbuena, who could not keep his feet as two defenders closed down any space in the penalty area. In fairness to the playmaker he did not dive or protest with the referee, who acted accordingly to award a goal kick.

37 minCHANCE! Ajaccio counter to create the game's best chance so far. Mutu held up the ball brilliantly to play in Cavalli, but his curling effort evaded the far post by a few inches. Marseille can count themselves lucky to be level after N'Koulou's lapse in concentration nearly proved costly.

39 minThe visitors enjoy a sustained spell of possession through Belghazouani takes the ball down brilliantly on the right wing before attempting to find Mutu. Mendes is well placed to intercept but Marseille are certainly struggling to play through Ajaccio's technically-gifted midfield.

41 minSHOT! Valbuena lashes his low shot well wide from a tight angle with an effort which just about sums up a frustrating first half for Marseille. Baup is out of his dugout and shouting instructions at his side just before the break.

43 minRomao's timely intervention just about stops Belghazouani shooting from inside the penalty area as Ajaccio continue to threaten sporadically on the counter.

45 minThe visitors keep possession for 10 passes across the midfield before Lasne aims a long ball forward to Mutu, which is too long and wide of the target. Marseille regain possession and have one minute of additional time to respond.

45 min+1Valbuena wins a corner and takes himself, sending a curling delivery into the danger zone. Zubar clears at the far post as Ajaccio do enough to hold firm until the break.

8.20pmHALF-TIME Marseille 0-0 Ajaccio

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8.22pmMarseille were met by a mix off boos and whistles as they left the field following a frustrating 45 minutes at the Velodrome. Baup's side have struggled to breach an experienced Ajaccio defence, who are good value for their draw at the interval.

8.24pmGignac and Valbuena have briefly threatened for distance for OM, who have been unable to find space for pacy duo Ayew and Sougou on the flanks. At the other end the visitors have showed intent on the break, with Cavalli spurning a golden opportunity to give Ajaccio a shock lead before the break.

8.26pmWith three points imperative for the home side tonight expect Marseille to make changes quickly if the pattern of play does not change after the break. Diawara and Jordan Ayew both offer something different in the final third and may need to be introduced if OM are to keep pace in Ligue 1.

8.29pmAjaccio have been relatively untroubled for large spells in a performance which has shown a marked improvement from recent away displays. Emon's side are not normally described as resilient or steely in defence but have shown both qualities at times in the first 45 minutes.

8.31pmMexican keeper Ochoa has been pressed into action just once so far tonight, a save at full stretch which denied Gignac with a low strike from distance. Zubar in particular has been excellent so far, perhaps inspired by coming up against his former club.

8.33pmBoth teams are making their way back onto the field at the Velodrome, with a reminder that Marseille must win to close the gap on Paris Saint-Germain to four points. Three points would also take OM above Lyon to second place until they play later this weekend.

8.35pmA slightly surreal chorus of 'We Will Rock You' greets the Marseille players as they come out for the second half. I guess anything is worth a try to rouse the home side into a second-half improvement and keep their Champions League challenge alive.

47 minAjaccio get the second half underway but almost instantly lose possession. Joey Barton picks it up more than 30 yards from goal but sends a wayward strike closer to the corner flag than Ochoa's goal!

49 minGignac drives forward and beats two defenders but his attempt to take on a third is a tad optimistic. Poulard uses the delay to put in a superb sliding challenge and stop the Marseille striker from doing damage in the final third.

51 minThe visitors have made a cautious start to the second half, which with no wins in their last seven away games is hardly a surprise. Adrian Mutu finds some space on the counter and lashes wide from a tight angle as Ajaccio once again enjoy some success on the counter.

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53 minValbuena twists and turns into the final third in tademark style but a superb covering challenge from Mostefa does just enough to knock the playmaker off his stride. Marseille are pressing high up the pitch but are still lack a killer final pass to create chances to score.

55 minMISS! Ajaccio come within inches of taking the lead thanks to an instinctive effort from Sammaritano. The winger cut inside and squeezed a low drive towards the far post, which had a relieved Mandanda beaten but went narrowly wide.

58 minSHOT! Gignac tries his luck from range at the other end with a curling drive. His shot was well struck but went over the far post by some distance as the home side's struggle to produce shots on target continues.

60 minBarton plays a superb pass with the outside of his foot to take out two static Ajaccio defenders. Morel looks to be through on goal but once again a covering defender appears on the scene just in time to avert danger. Marseille need clever through balls like that in abundance as a frustrating night reaches the final 30 minutes.

62 minSAVE! Sougou breaks a quiet spell out wide to rob possession from his full-back and bear down on goal. Ochoa stood tall and got two hands to his toe-poke effort, which proved just enough to turn a rash finish round the near post. With a tad more composure from their January signing Marseille would be ahead with that strike.

65 minSUBSTITUTION! Ajaccio coach Emon has decided to make a change, and it's a positive one too. Belghazouani is withdrawn for Malian international forward Sigmany Diawara, who will bring pace and power to a new-look strikeforce alongside Mutu.

67 minSHOT! Fanni picks the ball up outside the penalty area and decides to shoot as the Ajaccio defence backs off. Not known for his goals, the right-back lashes an optimistic effort well wide with the outside of his left foot. Marseille need more creativity after being restricted to long balls and strikes from range so far since the break.

70 minWIDE! Valbuena shows a neat touch to jink past two defenders on the left wing before cutting back for Joey Barton, who cuts across the ball to send a powerful strike just wide of the far post. That was more like it for Marseille but the search for a winning goal continues at both ends!

72 minAnother rush of blood to the head from Sougou has cost his side the chance to take the lead. After breaking clear out wide the forward had Ayew and Gignac waiting unmarked in the penalty area, but instead elected to flash a drive across the goal line. A gilt-edged chance missed there for the home side.

74 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Both teams decide to make changes, but Baup finally deciding to switch his attack. Jordan Ayew is on place of Romao as the home side go with two up front. Cavalli has been swapped for Faty as Ajaccio add extra steel in midfield for the last 15 minutes.

76 minGignacet aims a long-range thunderbolt towards goal yet again, but this time gets closer to the corner flag. The forward is adamant his strike took a deflection as his teammates look on wondering why they did not receive a pass into space.

78 minAJACCIO SUBSTITUTION: The visitors are forced into their final change early as Sammaritano goes down injured after a seemingly innocuous challenge with Gignac. Begoergi replaces the winger as Emon's men look to hang on in the closing stages.

80 minMISS! Jordan Ayew comes close to having a big impact as his looping header creeps just beyond the far post. That chance came about thanks to a surging run and cross from deep by Fanni. He does the same thing again just a minute later but this time no Marseille player is able to meet the pass.

82 minMARSEILLE SUBSTITUTION: Gignac is taken off after struggling to hit the target for most of a frustrating night. Algerian forward Kadir takes his place and has just under 8 minutes to get involved and help OM avoid dropping points at home.

84 minZubar sends another cross away with an emphatic header as Ajaccio drop deeper still in the final few minutes. The former Marseille defender has played like a man possessed against his old club tonight.

86 minMutu gives his defence a vital breather by breaking out wide and shooting high into the stand. Mostefa follows his lead soon after as the home fans start to feel resigned to a disappointing goalless draw.

88 minKadir controls a long pass but is instantly met by two Ajaccio defenders. The Algerian lines up a shot which takes a double deflection and drifts through harmlessly to Ochoa. Time is fast running out now for Marseille.

90 min+1Faty smashes clear a Valbuena cross that sums up just how poor the home side's distribution has been for long periods this evening. Baup looks livid on the touchline as his side edge towards a second successive 0-0 draw.

90 min+3Valbuena is penalised for a foul as he drives towards goal, which gives Ajaccio a chance to clear their lines from a deep free kick. Mendes sends forward a final desperate pass but Marseille must settle for a point.

9.26pmFULL-TIME Marseille 0-0 Ajaccio

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9.28pmThe referee brings to an end a hard-fought match in which neither side deserved to lose. Marseille dominated possession in the second half but were unable to unlock a spirited Ajaccio defence, which produced their best away performance of the season tonight by some distance.

9.30pmTonight will go down as a chance missed for Baup's side, who are now six points behind PSG having played a game more. Lyon, Nice and Saint-Etienne can now all close the gap on OM in the race for Champions League places with victories this weekend.

9.33pmThat just about brings an end to Sports Mole's coverage of Ligue 1 this evening. Thanks for joining us and be sure to check back in during a packed weekend of football across the continent. Goodnight!

Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac celebrates a goal against Montpellier on January 19, 2013
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