Lyon end Marseille's European hopes
Olympique Lyonnais strengthened their grip on the third and final UEFA Champions League place - at the same time dashing Olympique de Marseille's continental aspirations - with a 3-0 win on Sunday night.
Olympique de Marseille 0-3 Olympique Lyonnais
Olympico rivals Marseille and Lyon came into their clash at the Orange Vélodrome with both sides desperate to pick up all three points to protect their European hopes - OL's aim to play in the Champions League next season, OM's to play in Europe at all. Perhaps accordingly, the hosts started with greater urgency, and Anthony Lopes in the Lyon goal had to be on his toes to get to Duje Caleta-Car's knock on before Mario Balotelli could add the final touch (5'). Lucas Ocampos then forced a save from Lopes with a volley (17') before there was another Balotelli chance which the big Italian screwed wide with the visiting defence on the back foot (23'). Having weathered that early storm, Lyon duly took the lead when Houssem Aouar's shot ricocheted through to Maxwel Cornet, who made no mistake from close range (24'). Memphis Depay could have made things worse for OM when he got the break of the ball in their box, but his tame cutback was easily recovered by Luiz Gustavo (30'). Another turn of pace from Dutchman Memphis nearly resulted in a second before the half was out, but there was too much on his touch past Lopes's opposite number Steve Mandanda and he fired over from a tight angle (41').
Any spectator delayed in getting back to their seats following half-time refreshments would have missed a host of chances with the second half going off at break-neck speed. Nabil Fekir was inches away from getting his toe on the ball in the Marseille box (46') before Balotelli had a pair of headers at the other end, the first going wide, the second cleared off the line by Léo Dubois (48'). Memphis was then played through for a one-on-one with Lopes, but his shot was well saved by the Portugal goalkeeper (49'). Marseille turned the screw around the hour mark, and Gustavo was unlucky to see a volley fizz wide of the near post (58'). Hiroki Sakai then burst into the OL box from right-back, but his advances were stopped by Lopes racing off his line. The ball made its way to Ocampos on the far side and the nominally left-footed Argentine let fly with his right, but again Lopes was equal to the effort (62'). Things only calmed down for Lyon when OM centre-back Caleta-Car was given his marching orders for a foul on Martin Terrier (67'), and the visitors took full advantage. Cornet had an effort ruled out for offside (77') before second-half substitute Moussa Dembélé cuit inside to bag his team-high 14th goal of the season (84'), and there was still time for Cornet to wrap up a 3-0 win (86').
THE PLAYER: Anthony Lopes
That Lyon came away with all three points here was thanks, in large part, to their shot-stopper Lopes. His seven saves had the Marseille players scratching their heads as to how to find an equaliser before their numerical disadvantage took hold. The 28-year-old has never really displaced Wolverhampton Wanderers 'keeper Rui Patricio as Portugal's No.1 since making his debut for the country of his father's birth in 2015, but those who see him in Ligue 1 Conforama week in week out know that he could do a job for almost any country in world football.
THE STAT: 11
Lyon are now undefeated in their last 11 games against Marseille in Ligue 1 Conforama. The last time Les Phocéens picked up all three points against Les Gones was back in May 2014 when André-Pierre Gignac scored a brace in a 4-2 win in Marseille. Both goalkeepers - Lopes and Mandanda - were playing that day and this, as well as OL pair Fekir and Jérémy Morel, although centre-back Morel was a Marseille player back then.