Gignac nets again as OM maintain strong start
Marseille's French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac (L) scores a goal in front of Valenciennes' French goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau during a French L1 football match between Valenciennes and Marseille on August 24, 2013 at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes. Marseille continued their excellent start to the Ligue 1 season on Saturday with a hard-earned 1-0 win.
OM needed another goal from Andre-Pierre Gignac to finally break down the home defence, as the in-form striker turned in the loose ball with just five minutes remaining after Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau had failed to hold Andre Ayew's header.
The result left Elie Baup's side provisionally two points clear at the top of the table with a maximum nine points from three games, although Lyon could join them later if they beat Reims at the Stade de Gerland.
"At the start of the season it is important to get points on the board and it also helps us prepare for a difficult month of September when the games will come thick and fast," said Marseille coach Elie Baup, whose side entertain Monaco in a potential cracker next weekend.
"We got a spanking here last year and we didn't want a repeat of that."
Marseille have struggled regularly in Valenciennes recent campaigns and saw their run of six straight victories at the start of last season ended with a comprehensive 4-1 loss at the Stade du Hainaut.
A repeat of such a defeat never looked on the cards, as Marseille created the most of what chances there were.
Gignac chipped wide with Penneteau off his line in the 20th minute, while Mathieu Valbuena volleyed just over shortly before the interval.
Baup threw on recent signing Saber Khalifa for his debut for the final 11 minutes and the game finally came to life.
There was a huge escape for the visitors when Steve Mandanda saved from Mathieu Dossevi before Aurelian Chitu somehow failed to net the follow-up, and Gignac made Valenciennes pay moments later when he netted his third goal in as many games.
Opa Nguette then squandered another glorious chance for the hosts as OM hung on for the win.
On Friday, Monaco were held to a goalless draw by Toulouse at the Stade Louis II in a match played behind closed doors as a punishment for incidents at the end of Monaco's last home game of last season, when fans set off flares and invaded the pitch.
Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain, who have drawn their opening two matches, will be aiming to register their first victory of the fledgling campaign when they travel to promoted Nantes on Sunday night.