About time! Barton finally makes league debut for Marseille and helps French side move level with PSG at summit
00:04 GMT, 26 November 2012
QPR loanee Joey Barton finally made his league debut for French outfit Marseille on Sunday, helping his side move level on points with leaders Paris Saint-Germain in the process.
The Rangers exile had a lengthy wait for his first domestic match for the Ligue 1 team, and could only play in the Europa League while he served his 12-match ban.
But Barton was handed a start at Stade Velodrome in front of the home crowd as Marseille beat Lille 1-0.
Back with a bang: Joey Barton was inches away from marking his Ligue 1 debut with a goal
Up for the fight: Barton (left) picked up a yellow card within the first 30 minutes of the match
Marseille took their time to get a foothold in the game, as Nolan Roux and Marvin Martin went close in the early stages.
But the hosts would have been in front after 13 minutes if it weren't for a splendid triple save from Mickael Landreau as he denied Andre Ayew, then Mathieu Valbuena and then Benoit Cheyrou.
Barton wasted little time in picking up his first caution in French football, as the QPR midfielder was booked after 22 minutes for a strong challenge on Florent Balmont.
But the Englishman settled well into the match, and so too did Marseille.
Balmont was red-carded before the break after chopping down Valbuena when the Frenchman was through on Landreau's goal
Need a hand Barton helped his side join Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table
Goal threat: Jordan Ayew (right) scored the only goal of the game
It went from bad to worse for Eden Hazard's former club as Lille went a goal down through a Jordan Ayew header just after half-time.
Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was called upon on a number of occasions by the visitors, but proved himself more than up to the challenge with a couple of competent stops.
Barton, who also had stints with Manchester City and Newcastle, was inches away from marking his league debut with a peach of a goal.
The 30-year-old blasted an rasping drive from 25 yards, but it whistled past the stranded Landreau's post.
Marseille joined PSG at the top of the table on 26 points, having played one game less, but sit in second place with an inferior goal difference.
Off: Florent Balmont (left) saw red for a foul on Mathieu Valbuena (right)
Grateful: Barton applauded the home crowd for their support