PARIS: Bastia beat 10-man Marseille 2-1 in Ligue 1 on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as speculation mounted that the struggling southern giants may sack their Spanish coach Michel.
The result keeps Marseille in 13th place without a win since February 2, and more painfully, on fewer than half the points tally of their archrivals, champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Speculation was already mounting this week that Marseille were considering sacking Michel, a former Real Madrid winger who has coached Getafe and Seville in his homeland and Olympiakos in Greece.
“We’re stuck and it hurts,” said Michel, who left the game in a car with the club president Vincent Labrune having arrived with the players on the team bus.
“The players are destroyed tonight,” he lamented. “It’s now up to the president and the owner to decide what to do next.”
The latest reverse is even more gut wrenching given that on Saturday Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a sumptuous hat-trick as PSG warmed up for their Champions League clash with Manchester City by beating Nice 4-1 at the Parc des Princes.
That puts them on 80 points while Marseille have 39, with both having played 32 games.
Marseille are just six points above the relegation zone.
On a balmy afternoon at Bastia, speedy striker Francois Kamano ripped the Marseille defence open with a wide run in the 47th minute and his shot was met by defender Karim Rekik, who turned the ball into his own goal for a deserved opener.
Marseille ‘keeper Steve Man¬danda then fouled Kamano and Gael Danic smashed the ensuing penalty straight down the middle to make it 2-0 after 56 minutes.
Michel wasted no time in bringing on Michy Batshuayi and the Belgian striker grabbed a great peg-back goal in the 77th after taking a long ball down with his back to goal, turning three panicked defenders to immediately thump a shot beyond Bastia ‘keeper Jean-Luis Leca’s grasp.
Marseille’s Romain Alessan¬drini was then sent off after a two-footed revenge kick from the ground on Alexander Djiku, who had tripped him and was paid back with painful looking stud marks down his thigh.
Former Newcastle midfielder Florian Thauvin reflected on Marseille’s mood after this defeat saying: “I’m sick and tired of everything. I really don’t know what to say, I feel tired and beaten.”
Later Sunday Lyon dug deep for a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Lorient that lifted them into third with a brace from Alexandre Lacazette either side of a fine strike from Rachid Ghezzal.
After Lyon had gone behind to Marjeed Waris’ strike, Lacazette took his Ligue 1 tally to 16 as he starts to find some of the form which marked him out last season, with six games to go.
Monaco lost 2-1 at home to Bordeaux on Friday but remain second in Ligue 1 on 55 points, while Lyon in the third and final Champions League qualifying spot have 52.
On Saturday teenage sensation Ousmane Dembele scored twice as Rennes registered a fourth win in five outings to climb fourth with 51 points while Nice, after their defeat in Paris, have 50.
Resurgent Lille won a fourth straight league game earlier on Sunday as their Portuguese centre-forward Eder scored twice and set up a third for Zambian defender Stoppila Sunzu in an impressive 3-0 away win at Nantes.
Lille have climbed from 15th to seventh in little over a month with 15 points from the last 18, as motivational manager Frederic Antonetti’s techniques close Lille’s season on far better form than under Herve Renard, who was fired in November.
“Nantes are a good side but we had them good and proper,” said Antonetti. “I think we have a chance of Europe now and our first objective when I came here was survival.”