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Nicolas Pépé fires LOSC past Marseille

Publish on 25/01/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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LOSC strengthened their grip on second place in Ligue 1 Conforama, with Nicolas Pépé's brace (pen. 45+3', 90+4') giving them a 2-1 win over ten-man Olympique de Marseille on Friday night.

 Olympique de Marseille 1-2 LOSC 

THE MATCH

Marseille had dominated the first half from the off, and Nemanja Radonjic thought he had opened the scoring with the first attack of the game only to see his effort ruled out after a VAR review had shown Kostas Mitroglou to be offside (3'). Florian Thauvin then spun a free-kick narrowly over Mike Maignan's goal (13') before Adama Soumaoro's attempted clearance from a Bouna Sarr cross sailed just past the LOSC shot-stopper's back post (32'). Christophe Galtier's side are Paris Saint-Germain's nearest challengers this season for a reason, though, and they took the lead with their only chance of the half. Luiz Gustavo fouled Zeki Celik in the Marseille box, referee Amaury Delerue pointed to the spot, and Pépé stepped up to stroke home his 14th goal of the campaign (45+3').

Balotelli debut

Lille looked brighter after the restart, and could have pulled further clear when Pépé flew past Maignan's opposite number Steve Mandanda and sent a shot towards goal, but Rolando was on hand to clear the danger (55'). Fireworks interrupted play with half an hour to go, but once the teams reemerged LOSC looked content to sit back and defend their advantage. Marseille's frustration came to a head when Thauvin was sent off for a bad tackle on Youssouf Koné (67'). Mario Balotelli came on for his OM debut late on, replacing Boubacar Kamara (74'), and he wasted little time in lifting the home crowd off their seats, making space on the edge of the LOSC box before firing over the bar (75'). Pépé grabbed a second (90+4') before former OGC Nice man Balotelli's late consolation (90+6') and it ended 2-1 to the visitors.

THE PLAYER: Nicolas Pépé

Pépé has been ruthlessly efficient this season, and whilst this was far from his best performance to date, his attacking threat from the right wing is eminently impressive. The Côte d'Ivoire attacker has had a direct hand in a goal inside every 90 minutes he has played this term. If reported Barcelona interest is to be believed, it is of little surprise.

THE STAT: 8

This was LOSC's first win in Marseille in eight attempts. The last time Les Dogues picked up all three points against Les Phocéens at their Stade Vélodrome was back in March 2011, when Eden Hazard and Pierre-Alain Frau scored in a 2-1 win. Mandanda played in that match and this one, while Adil Rami, injured for Marseille here, was at the heart of the LOSC defence.