PARIS (AP) — Alexis Sanchez made his first start in the French league as 10-man Marseille edged Nantes 2-1 on Saturday to remain unbeaten.
Marseille got the winner in the 82nd minute with an own-goal from Nicolas Pallois, who diverted a header from Luis Suarez into his net.
Marseille, last season’s runner-up, has seven points from three league games while Nantes is still winless with two points.
“For sure, it was not a boring game. It was a lot of emotion,” Marseille coach Igor Tudor told Canal Plus television, calling the result a “victory of character.”
Marseille defender Chancel Mbemba capitalized on a goalmouth scramble to put the hosts ahead in the 70th. But Nantes playmaker Ludovic Blas equalized with a penalty in the 78th after Samuel Gigot had picked up a second yellow card for holding substitute Mostafa Mohamed inside the area.
Playing as a false nine, Sanchez got the nod over the ineffective Arkadiusz Milik. The Chile forward created chances for Jordan Veretout in the fifth minute and Matteo Guendouzi in the 40th. Sanchez also had a couple of opportunities to find the net but he shot wide in the 37th and Andrei Girotto rushed back to deflect his effort out for a corner in the 13th.
However, Sanchez was often isolated up front as he was the only forward in the starting lineup. He played behind Suarez in the second half after the Colombian striker had replaced injured Gerson in the 53rd. Sanchez was applauded by the crowd when he came off the pitch in the 65th.
The expectations on Sanchez are high. Marseille supporters hope to see the player who shone for Barcelona and Arsenal, and not the injury-hit player who struggled to be a regular starter with Manchester United and Inter Milan.
Nantes forward Moses Simon failed to convert two big chances, blazing over the bar with the goal at his mercy in the 52nd before goalkeeper Pau Lopez palmed away his low strike in the 61st.
In a clash between two expected contenders for European spots, Monaco lost for the first time in the league this season as Lens enjoyed a 4-1 victory.
Lens is still undefeated with seven points from three league games while Monaco is having an uneven start with four points. Monaco was also knocked out by PSV Eindhoven in Champions League qualifying earlier this month.
Lois Openda, Deiver Machado, Seko Fofana and Wesley Said scored for Lens while Monaco center back Benoit Badiashile netted a consolation goal.
“They wanted it more than us, they played with more commitment than us,” Monaco defender Axel Disasi told Amazon Prime Video. “Today was a wake-up call. We must give 100% every weekend.”
Monaco was down to 10 men in the 72nd after Brazilian right back Vanderson picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Machado.
In the second division, Saint-Etienne had three players sent off in a 6-0 loss to Le Havre and remains in last place.