Leonardo Balerdi, Marseille
Match Reports

Balerdi keeps Marseille in the hunt

Publish on 04/04/2021 at 23:08 - I. HOLYMAN


Marseille remain in the hunt for a top-five finish in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table after Leonardo Balerdi's bullet header and an Alvaro Gonzalez flick gave them a 2-0 win over Dijon on Sunday.


With fifth place potentially providing European football in 2021/22, OM had the opportunity to close to within a point of fifth-placed Lens following the northerners' 1-1 draw with Lyon on Saturday.


Jorge Sampaoli's men did so by inflicting an 11th straight defeat on Ligue 1's bottom side, but they could have made life easier for themselves. 


Moussa Konaté fired wide (17') for the visitors, who had won just one on their last ten visits to the Stade Vélodrome, but it was Marseille who threatened the most. 


Florian Thauvin whipped a free-kick to the near post that Saturnin Allagbé pushed out (41') before Dimitri Payet did the same with a corner and Balerdi powered a header past the Dijon goalkeeper (45+1') for only his second French top-flight goal.


Payet should have doubled Marseille's lead before the hour mark, but the former France international could not net a first goal in six league outings. 


Teed up by Pol Lirola after the Spanish full-back's sizzling overlap, Payet sidefooted wastefully over the crossbar when he had the whole goal to aim at (54'). When he did get an effort on target, Allagbé got down quickly to his left to push out the Marseille man's shot (60').


Unable to score himself, Payet had to settle for providing the ball for Marseille's second goal 11 minutes from time. It was a superbly delivered free-kick that Alvaro Gonzalez flicked on at the near post, the ball taking a final touch off Dijon captain Bruno Ecuele Manga en route to goal to give OM a second win in three league games.


THE PLAYER: Alvaro Gonzalez

The Spanish centre-half was key to Marseille's success last season, and his strike here ensured a vital three points. His never-say-die attitude rubs off on his teammates, and he has a crucial role to play alongside the more inexperienced Balerdi.



Marseille are now unbeaten in their last five league home games, winning four of them.


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