Florian Thauvin’s first-half penalty rescued a point for Marseille as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Montpellier.
Former Newcastle midfielder Thauvin’s spot-kick on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Giovanni Sio’s opener as both sides extended their respective unbeaten runs in Ligue 1.
Marseille had been hoping to make up ground on leaders Paris St Germain following their surprise defeat at Strasbourg on Saturday, but while fellow rivals Monaco and Lyon both had weekend wins, Marcelo Bielsa’s men were left hanging on for a point.
Montpellier, who have taken a point off PSG, Lyon and Monaco this season, were first to threaten through Stephane Sessegnon, whose low shot was brilliantly saved by Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in the bottom corner.
Hilton headed off target and Belgian forward Isaac Mbenza’s shot was kept out by Mandanda as Montpellier chased an early goal.
The home side made a deserved breakthrough in the 29th minute. Marseille failed to clear Nordi Mukiele’s free-kick and Sio fired his fourth goal of the season into the bottom corner from inside the penalty area.
Marseille had created little in the first period – Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s shot was well blocked – but on the stroke of half-time cashed in on some good fortune to equalise.
Hilton handled Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson’s cross into the penalty area and Thauvin converted the subsequent spot-kick low into the corner.
Zambo Anguissa fired wide for Marseille following Dimitri Payet’s assist early in the second period and Montpellier forward Souleymane Camara headed off target, but both sides still struggled to carve out clear-cut scoring chances.
Valere Germain forced a rare save from Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, who turned away the Marseille striker’s goal-bound 71st-minute effort from outside the area.
At the other end, Mukiele blazed over the crossbar from similar distance and Paul Lasne pulled his effort off target following Mbenza’s short free-kick.
Montpellier looked the more likely to snatch a winner in the closing stages. Lecomte kept out Ruben Aguilar’s effort and in stoppage time Camara headed agonisingly wide and Mukiele also sent a header past the post.
Marseille are now unbeaten in 11 league games, while Montpellier made it five matches without defeat.