OL and OM through, Nice frozen out
Olympique de Marseille fell on the night yet qualified at Braga; Olympique Lyonnais won 1-0 at Villarreal to go through, but Nice crashed out of the UEFA Europa League at the round of 32 stage, beaten by Lokomotiv Moscow.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
UEFA Europa League, Round of 32
Estadio Municipal de Braga
SC Braga 1 -0 Olympique de Marseille (OM through 3-1 on aggregate)
Olympique de Marseille lost for the first time in 13 games in all competitions yet still qualified for the next round. Still, Rudi Garcia would not have wanted to go into Sunday's Classique at the Parc des Princes off the back of a defeat.
Braga coach Abel Ferreira had promised to give it a real go and his team lived up to the pre-match words as they laid siege to Yohann Pelé's goal, using the width well. Braga scored on 31 minutes through Ricardo Horta, a reward for their efforts.
A goal would have settled OM down and Valère Germain went close to providing it five minutes after the restart, only for Matheus to come up with a heroic double save. The goalkeeper distinguished himself again from a Hiroki Sakai header (64') and OM, who introduced Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet off the bench, saw it out to go into Friday's draw.
Estadio de la Céramica
Villarreal CF 0-1 Olympique Lyonnais (OL through 4-1 on aggregate)
Last season's semi-finalists OL carried a strong 3-1 advantage into the second leg in Spain and Bruno Genesio named his strongest side despite the proximity of Sunday's derby against Saint-Etienne.
Villarreal struggled to create chances in the first half, although Anthony Lopes did do well to keep out Enes Ünal either side of half-time. In the second half OL had plenty of chances, including one amazing sequence in the 56th minute. Nabil Fekir rounded Sergio Asenjo but had his shot cleared off the line by Daniele Bonera. Memphis Depay followed up and Bonera flung himself full-length to block.
Home full-back Jaume Costa was sent off with 12 minutes to play and OL at last made the breakthrough they'd been threatening five minutes from time. Houssem Aouar sprung the offside trap with a pass to free Nabil Fekir and the captain laid it off for the unmarked Bertrand Traoré to walk the ball in.
RZD Arena, Moscow
FC Lokomotiv Moscow 1 - 0 OGC Nice (Lokomotiv through 4-2 on aggregate)
Nice made a brave attempt at overturning their 3-2 first leg deficit and Mario Balotelli, the scorer of the opening two goals of the tie, was desperately unlucky to not bring the scoreline level on aggregate as he struck the bar twice inside the first 20 minutes.
11 minutes in the striker thundered an exceptional 30-metre effort against the crossbar and the goalkeeper hadn't even moved. Guilherme was equally rooted to the spot eight minutes later when Balotelli hit the woodwork again with a great free-kick from range.
Lokomotiv did the damage on the half-hour when captain Igor Denisov fittingly kept his cool in freezing conditions to finish off a scrappy move. That goal left Lucien Favre's side requiring to score three times to advance. Les Aiglons had their chances but failed to find a way past the impressive Guilherme.