COVID-recovered Dembele nets winner as Lyon beats Marseille
LYON, France (AP) — Lyon striker Moussa Dembele shook off his recent COVID-19 infection and scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over third-place Marseille in the French league on Tuesday after coming on as a substitute.
Dembele was set to miss the match but was finally included in the Lyon squad, starting on the bench in the replay of a game that was abandoned in November after a spectator threw a bottle at Marseille’s Dimitri Payet.
In the absence of many regular players, Lyon dominated possession in the first half but was largely harmless. Marseille opened the scoring from a set piece in the ninth minute, only to squander its lead in the last 15 minutes.
Xherdan Shaqiri put the hosts level in the 75th minute following Matteo Guendouzi’s early goal and Dembele snatched the winner with two minutes left.
Marseille missed the chance to leapfrog Nice into second place and remained 13 points behind leader Paris Saint-Germain.
Back in November, the match was abandoned after Payet was hit on the head in the fourth minute, with the score 0-0. Following the incident, Lyon was docked one point by the French league’s disciplinary committee, which also ordered a replay of the match in an empty stadium.
Several violent episodes at French stadiums this season led the country’s sports authorities to beef up stadium security.
Marseille, which had won its past five away games, barely threatened. But Jorge Sampaoli’s team looked solid after Guendouzi met Payet’s corner kick at the near post and glanced the ball with the back of his head into the net.
It was Payet’s ninth assist, the most in the French league this season.
But the visitors sat back after the interval. Lyon’s first real chance came in the 71st minute after Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car’s poor touch gave Dembele an opportunity to test Pau Lopez. The Marseille goalkeeper was first to the ball to win their duel then denied Shaqiri’s effort from the rebound.
Marseille’s defense was finally made to pay for its passivity on Lyon’s next move, as Shaqiri found himself unmarked in the box and calmly headed the ball beyond Lopez’s reach and into the net.
Dembele came close soon after with an acrobatic volley and was rewarded for his perseverance in the 88th with a superb goal when he dribbled past defender William Saliba after controlling a lofted pass with an expert touch, then poked the ball over Lopez.
After an inconsistent first half of the season, Lyon managed a third consecutive win and moved into seventh place, six points behind Marseille.