Arkadiusz Milik scored a hat-trick as Olympique de Marseille secured European qualification in dramatic fashion, while the battle to avoid the relegation play-off place will go down to the final day of the season.
Milik scores penalty winner
Marseille looked to be on easy street as they found themselves 2-0 up at home to Angers SCO at the Orange Vélodrome with Milik heading in Pol Lirola’s cross to open the scoring in the ninth minute and then netting again after being set up by Dimitri Payet four minutes into the second half.
Hiroki Sakai had headed against the bar in the first half and Jorge Sampaoli’s side were excellent value for their lead, but Angers were given hope when Mateo Pavlovic headed down a corner for substitute Mathias Pereira Lage to nod in (57’).
There has frequently been late drama at the Vélodrome since Sampaoli took over as OM coach but nothing quite like that which came at the end of this game. Angers drew level five minutes from time when Steve Mandanda came to collect Thomas Mangani’s hanging free-kick only to collide with team-mate Sakai and spill the ball. Álvaro González’s attempted clearance was blocked by Romain Thomas and the ball ricocheted into the net. The referee initially disallowed the goal only to overturn his decision after a VAR review.
Marseille thought they had been wronged, and an angry Sampaoli was sent from the touchline for protesting. However, they saw another big VAR call go their way in stoppage time. Referee Frank Schneider did not initially give a penalty when Thomas scythed down young substitute Ahmadou Bamba Dieng but changed his mind after seeing the images. Milik stepped up to score the resulting penalty in the fifth minute of added time, completing his hat-trick and securing a 3-2 OM win.
Lens beaten, but hold sixth place…
At the same time, their rivals in the fight for fifth place were losing. Stade Rennais FC went down 2-1 at AS Monaco, while RC Lens lost 3-0 at Girondins de Bordeaux, with Hwang Ui-jo’s penalty putting the struggling home side ahead before Youssouf Sabaly and Mehdi Zerkane added further goals late on.
All of which strengthens Marseille’s grip on fifth place. They are now three points clear of Lens with a superior goal difference. A draw away at FC Metz next weekend will guarantee fifth and a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League for OM. Lens remain in sixth, which brings a place in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League, but their advantage over Rennes is still just a single point.
Nantes to escape bottom three?
At the bottom, while Nîmes Olympique joined Dijon FCO in being automatically relegated with their 5-2 home defeat against Olympique Lyonnais, six clubs are separated by just two points in the battle to avoid the relegation play-off position.
FC Nantes are still in 18th position despite claiming a fourth successive win, with Randal Kolo Muani netting twice and Kalifa Coulibaly and Ludovic Blas also on target in their 4-0 success at Dijon.
Les Canaris are just a point behind FC Lorient, Stade Brestois 29 and RC Strasbourg Alsace, as well as two points adrift of Bordeaux and Stade de Reims.
Lorient claimed a crucial 2-1 win at home to Metz with Jérôme Hergault the unlikely match-winner after Yoane Wissa’s penalty opener had been cancelled out by Boubacar Traoré. Brest drew 0-0 at Montpellier Hérault SC, while Strasbourg found form at just the right time as they emerged victorious from their visit to OGC Nice, Ludovic Ajorque’s brace securing a 2-0 victory.
With Strasbourg and Lorient playing each other on the final day, Nantes will be safe if they win at home to Montpellier. A draw will also be enough for the eight-time champions, as long as there is a winner between Strasbourg and Lorient or Brest lose at home to title-chasing PSG.
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