Marseille missed the chance to put pressure on French league leader Paris Saint-Germain after being held at home by in-form Montpellier to 1-1.
Matteo Guendouzi’s first-half penalty was all Marseille had to show for dominating possession and chances as the visitors stayed unbeaten in the seventh game since coach Michel Der Zakarian returned last month.
Marseille’s draw means PSG can move nine points clear on Sunday with a win at home over Lyon.
The visitors made a better start and Arnaud Nordin fired Montpellier ahead in the 12th minute, though he had to wait for a VAR check to celebrate after he was initially flagged offside. Wahbi Khazri made a fine turn to elude Guendouzi and set off on a run that sucked in four Marseille defenders before he played the ball to Elye Wahi, who sent it straight on to Nordin for the French forward’s fifth league goal.
There was a lengthy holdup for treatment to Montpellier defender Boubakar “Kiki” Kouyaté after a clash of heads. Kouyaté was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Mamadou Sakho.
Sakho conceded the penalty for handball – another VAR call – before the break. Guendouzi duly equalized from the spot in the 44th.
Marseille went on to have more shots at goal, but the biggest chance fell to Khazri midway through the second half when he swept his shot narrowly wide of the left post.
Marseille coach Igor Tudor sent on Dimitri Payet for the final quarter-hour but there was no way through the well-organized Montpellier defense. Tudor’s team hasn’t won at home in the league since January.
Montpellier, which was only two points clear of the relegation zone when “Der Zak” returned, moved 14 points above it ahead of the rest of the 29th round.