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OM's European hopes dashed by Canaris loss

Publish on 28/04/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Nantes made it four consecutive Ligue 1 Conforama wins as they prevailed 2-1 at Olympique de Marseille on Sunday evening.

Olympique de Marseille 1-2 FC Nantes 

THE MATCH

With fifth in the table not a European finish because of Rennes beating Paris Saint-Germain in Saturday night's Coupe de France final, OM's European qualification hopes now hang by a thread. They are five points back from fourth-placed Saint-Etienne with only four matches remaining.

Nantes, by way of contrast, are finishing the season in spectacular form and have a penchant for turning over more fancied opposition, adding OM to an impressive list of scalps also featuring champions PSG and Olympique Lyonnais in their current winning run.

Chasing a third straight league victory, OM started at a frantic pace and Lucas Ocampos had a shot blocked after only 20 seconds. At the other end the in-form Kalifa Coulibaly (2') drew a save from Steve Mandanda. Nantes took the lead (22') after Bouna Sarr had given the ball away. Coulibaly's shot was blocked by Luiz Gustavo but fell for Samuel Moutoussamy to curl his maiden Ligue 1 Conforama goal past Mandanda.

OM wasted no time in replying and four minutes later (26') drew level. Nantes were caught sleeping from a quickly taken throw and Lucas Ocampos whipped over a marvellous cross from the right that the unmarked Mario Balotelli headed home unmarked. Balotelli (38') had an attempt blocked and then Maxime Dupé produced the save of the half (44') as he dealt with a vicious cross from the left that deflected off visiting defender Nicolas Pallois' back.

Five minutes into the second half (50') Nantes took the lead for the second time as OM failed to deal with a Moutoussamy corner and Andrei Girotto bundled the ball in. Goal-line technology was need to confirm Mandanda hadn't kept it out. OM - missing injured top scorer Florian Thauvin - were short of inspiration in the second half, though might have equalised through a Valère Germain volley (66'), while the impressive Diego Carlos was relieved not to score an own goal (85').

THE PLAYER: Mario Balotelli

Available again after injury and suspension, Balotelli netted his eighth goal in OM colours. Five of the goals have been laid on by Ocampos and OM fans must wonder what position the club would be in now had Balotelli joined last summer rather than in the winter window. There was concern as the Italian went off feeling his left hamstring in the second half.

THE STAT: 8

Vahid Halilhodzic has faced OM 10 times as a Ligue 1 Conforama coach and the former Paris Saint-Germain boss has won eight of those clashes, including both meetings of Nantes and OM this season.