Benedetto penalty miss means Marseille draw at Nantes
Dario Benedetto missed a penalty on his Ligue 1 Conforama debut and Steven Mandanda was brilliant as Olympique de Marseille picked up their first point of the season with a goalless draw at FC Nantes on Saturday.
FC Nantes 0-0 Olympique de Marseille
After seeing his side lose their opening game to Stade de Reims, Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas brought in new signings Benedetto and Alvaro Gonzalez at either end of the pitch, and the latter went close with an early header that boded well (5').
Nantes had also lost their opening match — up in Lille — and new boss Christian Gourcff beefed up his team with summer signings Mehdi Abeid and Cristian Benavente as they sought to repeat their win over OM at the Stade de la Beaujoire last season.
Kalifa Coulibaly brought the first real save of the game, firing from a tight angle only to see Mandanda beat down his shot (15'), before Dimitri Payet brought Alban Lafont into action at the opposite end of the pitch (26').
The former Toulouse FC goalkeeper, who returned to France this summer on loan from Fiorentina, should have been needed again when Abdoulaye Touré's handball gave Marseille a penalty — Payet gifted the ball to Benedetto, and then watched as the Argentine forward blasted the spot-kick over the crossbar (31').
Nantes had scored 35 goals at home last season — their highest tally at the Beaujoire since 1996/97 — but found Mandanda in no mood to let them open their 2019-20 account. Abeid was denied by a full-length dive to his left by the France international (61').
It took more brilliance from Mandanda to keep Nantes at bay, notably denying Abdoul-Kader Bamba after he had come off the bench (76'), as Marseille picked up a fortuitous first point of Villas-Boas' tenure.
THE PLAYER: Steve Mandanda
The visitors would have been sunk without their veteran goalkeeper. Supposedly in the twilight of his career, the 34-year-old looked in superb shape and form as he fully justified his new boss' decision to hand the captain's armband back to him, leading by example.
THE STAT: 9
It had been nearly nine years — since Taye Taiwo's penalty against Toulouse on 20 November 2010 — that a Marseille player had failed to hit the target from the spot.