MONTPELLIER, France–Marseille kept its slim hopes of a European spot alive by defeating Montpellier 3-2 in the French league on Friday.
Marseille substitute Dimitri Payet scored the winner in the last minute of regulation when his long-range effort took a deflection off Montpellier defender Vitorino Hilton to loop over goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren and into the net.
France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena initially put Marseille ahead with an acrobatic lob in the 42nd minute. Montpellier playmaker Remy Cabella equalized six minutes later by converting a rebound after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda denied forward Mbaye Niang.
Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac met a low cross from fullback Brice Djadjedje to restore his team’s lead with a half-volley in the 58th minute for his 14th league goal.
But Montpellier substitute Morgan Sanson leveled from close range in the 79th after Mandanda palmed a low strike from Cabella into his path.
Montpellier could have taken the lead in the 88th but Niang missed the target from seven yards.
“This victory is important for our morale,” Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou said. “We’re going to give it a shot and try to win every remaining match.”
Marseille pulled within four points of fourth-place Saint-Etienne.
Former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama performed the ceremonial kickoff. He led Montpellier to the French Cup title in 1990.
Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa watched the game from the stands. He’s among the candidates to become the next Marseille coach.
On Saturday, it’s: Lille vs. Valenciennes; Ajaccio vs. Bordeaux; Evian vs. Bastia; Nice vs. Lorient; Rennes vs. Monaco; and Sochaux vs. Toulouse.
On Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain visits Lyon, Saint-Etienne faces Reims and Nantes hosts Guingamp.