Gignac the centurion inspires Marseille

Andre-Pierre Gignac’s double fired Marseille to a 2-0 win over relegation-bound Metz on Friday to boost the south coast giants’ prospects of competing in next season’s Champions League.

Gignac, out of contract at the end of the season, celebrated his 100th goal in the French top flight as the first half was drawing to a close, and then made inroads into his second century after the break.

Marseille had travelled north desperate to put a stop to a four-match losing streak.

And this timely change in fortunes moved them provisionally above Saint-Etienne on goal difference into fourth on 60 points, two points shy of Monaco occupying the third and final Champions League spot.

Coach Marcelo Bielsa was a relieved man, the Argentine declaring: “It was really necessary to win here.

“While it’s still mathematically possible we’ll retain hope of making third place.”

Seen as potential champions as recently as Christmas, Marseille’s Ligue 1 meltdown has been so dramatic even lowly Metz were fancying their chances in this Friday night showdown.

But Gignac, who on a busy night also picked up a yellow card for elbowing Metz defender Jeremy Choplin, put paid to that notion in some style.

The in-form international striker had the visitors in control when pouncing on a mistake by Metz keeper Anthony Mfa who dropped the ball he’d caught safely with both hands off a corner after colliding with Metz defender Jose Luis Palomino.

A bungled attempt by Metz to avert the resulting danger ended up with Gignac turning deftly to shoot into an open goal with seven minutes of the first half to go.

He doubled up after the hour, Dimitri Payet the provider, to give Marseille renewed hope of a top three finish.

Bielsa’s decision to start the 29-year-old in preference to the young Belgian Michy Batshuayi had paid off handsomely.

For Metz this latest loss at their Stade Saint-Symphorien left them second from bottom and almost certain to be relegated to Ligue 2.

Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Metz 3-1 on Tuesday to go three points clear at the top, face Nantes on Sunday, with their closest rivals Lyon up against Evian.

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