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article imageMarseille suffer derby woe as Champs League hopes fade

By AFP     Mar 7, 2014 in World

French giants Marseille's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League suffered a huge blow with a 1-0 defeat at home to struggling Nice in the Cote d'Azur derby on Friday.

Marseille coach Jose Anigo had complained before the game about the quick turnaround just 48 hours after Wednesday's international friendlies.

And his fears proved justified as the former European champions produced a poor display and fell to Valentin Eysseric's sumptuous 66th-minute free-kick.

The result left Marseille six points off third place and the final Champions League qualifying position, while depending on other results this weekend they could drop as low as seventh by Sunday night.

For Nice, who last season were battling for a place in the top three, this much-needed victory eased their relegation concerns and pushed them up to 11th for the time being, and 12 points clear of the drop zone.

Although Marseille, who were missing first choice forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, dominated for long spells of the game, particularly in the first half, Nice arguably had the best chances.

Dario Cvitanich snatched at an opportunity presented to him in the first 20 seconds following an appalling back pass from Andre Ayew, firing well over.

And on the stroke of half-time Eric Bautheac lost his cool when presented with a sight of goal from 12 yards, volleying well over the bar.

In between, the hosts kept Nice goalkeeper David Ospina busy with efforts from distance, although he never looked like being beaten.

He saved two efforts from Dimitri Payet and one each from Ayew and Florian Thauvin, who also headed another chance wide while Benoit Cheyrou was also off target with a speculative shot.

Substitute Saber Khelifa came closest after the break for Marseille but Ospina was once again equal to a rare shot on target.

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