Benedetto spares Marseille blushes


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It was another disappointing result for Jorge Sampaoli's side, which has endured a torrid season on and off the field and remains sixth on the Ligue 1 table, 11 points adrift of the top four.

Strasbourg, sitting at 15th in Ligue 1 and nine places and 18 points worse off than its host, clearly came to Stade Velodrome to test Marseille again.

Ludovic Ajorque had an early chance cleared off the line by Leonardi Balerdi before Mats Selz denied the Argentine centre-back from point-blank range at the other end.

Arkadiusz Milik dragged an effort wide of Sels's far post from the edge of the box midway through the half but Ajorque then had an even better chance soon, but narrowly missed the target.

Ajorque did manage to force Sels's opposite number Steve Mandanda into a save minutes later, but it was only a tame header at the back post.

Sels pulled off a stunning stop to deny Alvaro Gonzalez with a backwards header from a Dimitri Payet free-kick and it was goalless at the break, and the teams went in goalless at half-time.

Sampaoli sent Luis Henrique into the fray for defender 10 minutes into the second half in search of some inspiration, while Pape Gueye provided fresh legs in midfield in place of Valentin Rongier just before the hour.

Strasbourg remained strong, though, and Ajorque was only denied the opener when Kamara's heel took the sting out of his shot, allowing Mandanda to collect.

When the lead eventually came, it was more than deserved.. Mitrovic rose above Alvaro to meet Dimitri Liénard's corner and powered home a header that finally sparked Marseille into life.

The hosts piled on the pressure for the remainder of the match, grabbing the equaliser four minutes from time when substitute Benedetto met Henrique's pass to steer home his fifth goal of the campaign.

While the result extended Marseille's unbeaten run over Strasbourg in all competitions to 14 matches, it's unlikely to inspire a fanbase that is desperate to see its side back in Europe next season and also challenging for the Ligue 1 title it hasn't won since 2009-2010.