Marseille grateful to super subs
Substitutes Clinton Njie and Dimitri Payet both scored late goals as Olympique de Marseille beat RC Strasbourg Alsace 2-0 at the Orange Vélodrome on Tuesday.
Marseille were playing their first home Ligue 1 Conforama game of 2018 after a fine 3-0 victory away to Stade Rennais FC at the weekend as they keep up the pressure on AS Monaco and Olympique Lyonnais in the fight for a podium place and qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League.
Rudi Garcia's side have been impressive in recent times but they toiled for long spells here against the men from Alsace. After a first half of few chances they had a great opportunity to go ahead on the stroke of half-time, but Lucas Ocampos shot over from point-blank range after being picked out by Florian Thauvin's cross.
OM then lost Morgan Sanson to a knee injury after the break that will be a source of concern for Garcia. Njie replaced him, but it looked as if the hosts would have to settle for a point when they squandered a penalty awarded for a foul on Payet by Nuno Da Costa.
Valère Germain's kick was saved by Alexandre Oukidja, the second penalty missed by a Marseille player is as many games after Thauvin at Rennes at the weekend.
Marseille were not to be denied, though. Germain controlled a low Thauvin cross at the near post and saw his shot blocked, but Njie lashed in the rebound (79') for his sixth Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the season, his first since September.
The hosts then made sure of the points in the 87th minute as Payet, finding himself clean through on goal, brilliantly sold Oukidja a dummy to leave the 'keeper on the ground before slotting in. Oukidja suffered an injury when going down and had to come off for the final moments.
It is just one defeat in 16 league games now for OM, and three wins in a row, as they keep their podium hopes alive.
THE PLAYER: Dimitri Payet
He has not often been at his very best this season, but his goal that ended this match as a contest was a reminder of the true class of the French international. It was just his third league goal of the campaign.
THE STAT: 11
Garcia's men are now unbeaten in their last 11 home games in all competitions. AS Monaco are the next visitors on January 28.