Florian Thauvin and Kostas Mitroglou scored twice as Olympique de Marseille swept past LOSC Lille 5-1 on Saturday to keep hot on the heels of their rivals in the race for a top-three finish.
Olympique de Marseille 5-1 LOSC
OM had seen Olympique Lyonnais move three points ahead of them in third place — and move to within a point of second-placed AS Monaco — with Friday's 5-2 win at Dijon FCO, and knew they needed a response. They found one.
Undetered by the prospect of Thursday's UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg with Red Bull Salzburg, Rudi Garcia's men quickly seized the initiative - Thauvin continuing his sizzling form with a fine near-post header from Bouna Sarr's cross (12').
Thiago Maia (16') and Kevin Malcuit (18') sent shots just wide before Marseille tore the game away from their visitors, who came into the match winless in ten and third-from-bottom, in the space of eight minutes.
Hamza Mendyl was adjudged to have fouled Dimitri Payet and Thauvin tucked away the penalty (30'), and then Mitroglou scored twice within four minutes: the first a peerless header from Jordan Amavi's cross (34'); the second a volley after Lucas Ocampos' intelligent header to the Greece international inside the six-yard box (38').
Often decried this season following his summer move from Benfica, Mitroglou is now starting to have an impact - that was his eighth and ninth goals in his last 12 competitive games.
Four down at the break, Lille sought to at least produce a better second-half display, and Yassine Benzia drilled in their first goal at Marseille in seven league games to at least save some face (54').
But Christophe Galtier's men still slipped into the bottom two — Ligue 1 Conforama's automatic relegation places — on goal difference as Lucas Ocampos smashed home a fifth (68').
Payet could have added more: he inexplicably shot wide (62') and hit a post after scything through the visitors' porous defence (71'), but OM had already done enough to keep up the heat on Lyon and Monaco.
THE PLAYER: Dimitri Payet
The France international is not a certainty to play for his country in the summer, but it is unimagineable for him to be left out of the Marseille side right now. His gesture to ask Thauvin to take the penalty instead of him was classy, just as his run through the Lille defence and his shot against a post was.
THE STAT: 111
OM have scored 111 goals in all competitions this season, their best tally since the early 1970s.