Marseille in Europe, Bastia down
By A. Scott
Bafétimbi Gomis headed in his 20th goal of the season as Olympique de Marseille ground out a 1-0 win over SC Bastia at the Orange Vélodrome that secured them European football next season and relegated the Corsicans.
Olympique de Marseille 1 - 0 SC Bastia
Needing a win to guarantee fifth place and European qualification without depending on others, Marseille were without the suspended Dimitri Payet so Rémy Cabella made his first start in over two months. Hiroki Sakai returned at right-back after suspension.
Bastia needed at least a draw to stand any chance of avoiding automatic relegation and a win to maintain any prospect of finishing outside the bottom three. Coach Rui Almeida brought in Nicolas Saint-Ruf to a back five and handed starts to Allan Saint-Maximin and Gaël Danic.
Those two can create something from nothing but Bastia spent the first half on the back foot. They successfully thwarted their hosts, though, with Marseille only really threatening when Maxime Lopez drilled a ball across the six-yard box that Morgan Sanson was unable to divert on target.
Florian Thauvin also fired over but Marseille rarely looked like breaking down a well-drilled Bastia defence. The pattern of the game remained in the second half with Gomis connecting with a Morgan Sanson cutback only for Jean-Louis Leca to deny him before Jorge Rolando squandered a great chance when he headed wide from a Lopez corner.
But Marseille eventually broke through in the 74th minute as Lopez collected a Thauvin pass on the right and crossed for Gomis, who stole goal-side of Alexander Djiku and headed home. That proved to be the difference, with Bastia, needing a positive result to stand a chance of staying up, unable to muster a single shot on target.
Marseille end the season with an unbeaten run of 11 games as they secure fifth place and Europa League football in 2017-18. They will enter that competiton in the third qualifying round. Meanwhile, Bastia's five-year stay in Ligue 1 comes to an end and there will be no Corsican representative in the top flight next season.
THE PLAYER: Bafétimbi Gomis
It remains to be seen if this will prove to be Gomis' last appearance in a Marseille shirt with his loan from Swansea City now coming to an end. If it was, then it was the perfect send-off, the captain scoring the goal that secured a European place. It was his 20th goal of the season, the first time he has reached that mark in his Ligue 1 career.
THE STAT: 24
Bastia have now failed to win in 24 visits to the Vélodrome in the top flight since a 2-0 success in March 1972. They have lost 21 of those games. How long will it be before they are back at the Vélodrome?