Olympique de Marseille captain Dimitri Payet inspired his ide to a 5-2 home win over RB Leipzig that took OM into the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League on a night of breathless excitement.
Thursday, April 1, 2018
UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, second leg
Olympique de Marseille 5 - 2 RB Leipzig (OM through 5-3 on aggregate)
A record crowd for a home European game at Orange Vélodrome witnessed a classic. The drama was unrelenting as OM recovered from the worst possible start to make the last four as they managed their own remontada. Leipzig, 1-0 up from the first leg, opened the scoring with only 75 seconds on the clock as Bruma finished right-footed past Steve Mandanda's stand-in Yohann Pelé. The goal, in which Jean-Kévin Augustin played a part, meant OM needed to score at least three times to qualify.
Rudi Garcia's side riposted (6') as Kostas Mitroglou helped on a Dimitri Payet corner and Stefan Ilsanker put through his own net. The noise was incredible on the south coast and the stadium erupted (9') when OM scored a goal on the counter after a Leipzig corner. Payet played a great cross-field ball and Morgan Sanson's volley was true. Péter Gulácsi saved and then kept out another effort from the midfielder, only for Bouna Sarr to follow up to finish.
Payet netted an absolute screamer of a left-footer (17') only for it to be ruled out for a Mitroglou foul in the build-up. OM got the third they were after (38') when Florian Thauvin marked his return from injury with a 19th goal of the season n all competitions. Payet's curling free-kick dipped his way and the former Newcastle man finished calmly with a side-footed finish with his weaker right foot. OM had switched to three at the back by then as Adil Rami was pressed into action for shoulder victim Sarr.
Augustin setback, Payet heroics
Five minutes into the second half the Leipzig goalkeeper made a great save from Mitroglou and then denied Jordan Amavi from the follow-up. The Gulácsi heroics looked even more important when former PSG forward Augustin scored (55') with a shot that deflected off 18-year-old Boubacar Kamara. Naby Keita, off to Liverpool in the summer, was the creator.
On the hour Payet netted another wonderful goal and this time it counted. After skilfuly working his way past Ilsanker, the French international scored with an unstoppable finish with the outside of his right boot. Pelé made a fine save from Leipzig sub Yussuf Poulsen in stoppage time as home hearts were in mouths. As it is, OM are into Friday's draw, the icing on the cake being an empty-net goal for Japanese hero Hiroki Sakai after Gulácsi had come up for a Leipzig corner.
THE PLAYER: Dimitri Payet
The OM skipper has only a handful of games to convince Didier Deschamps he warrants a place on the plane to the FIFA World Cup in Russia. A truly world-class display in such a high-profile game will certainly have caught the former OM boss' attention as Payet showed the quality that made him a key man for Les Bleus at UEFA Euro 2016.
THE STAT: 14
Not since 2004 when they fell to Valencia in the UEFA Cup final had Olympique de Marseille managed to qualify for the semi-finals of a European competition.