French League Cup finalists Montpellier climbed into sixth place on the strength of a come from behind 2-1 win at Nancy today while champions Marseille were held to a goalless draw at relegation-threatened Monaco. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was in the stands to gain some first hand knowledge of Marseille, his team's UEFA Champions League last 16 opponents.
And he saw the best chance of the first half fall to Monaco, who should have broken the deadlock two minutes from the break when Mathieu Contadeur was ideally placed only for his shot to be stopped by Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda. Ten minutes earlier a diving header from Loic Remy had given Monaco a mighty scare.
Marseille, who meet United in the first leg at their Velodrome Stadium on 23 February, moved ahead of Montpellier into fifth on the strength of superior goal difference, with Monaco stuck in relegation territory, one off the foot of the table.
Earlier, Nancy couldn't have asked for a better start, with Youssouf Hadji firing them into a second minute lead, and the Morrocan international narrowly missed out adding a second four minutes later. Montpellier coach Rene Girard, sitting out a one-match ban and having to direct affairs via a walkie-talkie from the stands, saw his side pull level when Souleymane Camara headed home in the eighth minute.
The game lost some of its intensity after the break with Montpellier happy to pounce on a series of mistakes by their hosts, and defender Garry Bocaly grabbed the all important win with a strike from the right hand side of the box on the hour.
The result pushed Montpellier up to 33 points, one shy of fourth-placed Rennes, who were swept aside 5-1 by Sochaux on yesterday, while Nancy are hovering dangerously two points above the drop zone.
Girard said: "When a team scores so early it's not easy to come back but we had the chance to hit back very quickly. It was annoying to concede so early but if we'd conceded in the 93rd minute then we wouldn't have had much time to respond."
In today's other early game former champions Bordeaux gained a much needed 2-0 home win over Nice, Lamine Sane putting Jean Tigana's team into the lead in the 39th minute with Anthony Modeste ensuring the win after the interval.
The result will go some way to easing the pressure on Tigana, whose side slid out of the French Cup at second division Angers last week. They are now placed eighth, 11 points off the top of the table.
"The three points are important not only for looking at the teams ahead of us but also those behind. We put up a good match but we can still do even better," said Tigana.