Marseille title tilt built on home-grown talent

PARIS - With Brandao gone and Loic Remy suspended, Olympique Marseille are hoping a pair of Ghanaian brothers groomed at their youth academy can help retain the Ligue 1 title as their campaign continues against Auxerre on Sunday.

Marseille claimed top spot with a 4-2 win over Nice on Wednesday, courtesy of an Andre Ayew hat-trick and a goal by his younger brother, Jordan.

"The interesting thing is that both scorers come from our youth academy," OM sports director Jose Anigo told the club's website on Thursday.

"It's a great victory for OM, who have the ambition to groom younger players. It shows a good example to all the young players (from the academy)."

Coach Didier Deschamps had little choice but to include Andre in his starting line-up on Wednesday due to a lack of striking options - Brandao has been loaned to Cruzeiro after being investigated over an alleged rape in France and Remy is serving a three-match ban.

Deschamps also brought on Jordan Ayew to replace Andre-Pierre Gignac in the 58th minute.

"It's a good thing (that they performed so well) because I don't exactly have many strikers handy right now," said Deschamps.

"He (Jordan) had been feeling great for a while, but nothing is done yet, we have to forget about it (the Nice game) and shift our focus to the next game," said the elder Ayew.

With six games left, Marseille have 61 points to Lille's 60, with Lyon in third on 56 points.

Lille, who had been leading the league since Dec. 5, are likely to regain top spot on Saturday as they host already-relegated Arles-Avignon.

Lille coach Rudy Garcia said there was all to play for.

"One point is not much," he told sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday. "Nothing is done yet and I believe it will go to the wire."

Lyon travel to Toulouse on Sunday hoping that France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff has finally regained his magic touch.

Gourcuff showed why Lyon paid 22 million euros for him last summer by coming off the bench to score the winner in his team's 3-2 win over Montpellier on Wednesday.

Paris Saint-Germain, in fourth place three points behind Lyon, host Valenciennes on Saturday as they bid for a Champions League spot.