By winning in the very last seconds of the match against Lorient (3-2) on a goal from Pol Lirola, the Marseillais regained sixth place in the Ligue 1 standings from Rennes.
After Rennes’ large victory on the Angers lawn (3-0) at the start of the afternoon, Olympique de Marseille had no other choice but to win against Lorient at the Stade Vélodrome to recover his 6th place and continue to believe in qualifying for the European Cup. At the end of Saturday afternoon, the Marseillais did not fail against the Merlus, with a stunning victory acquired in the very last seconds of the match (3-2).
Since his arrival at OM in early March, Jorge Sampaoli has made a specialty of suspenseful endings. To obtain his fourth home success with Marseille in as many matches, the Argentinian coach has once again been able to count on what one could compare to “Fergie time”. OM once again had to wait until the very last minutes of the match to win (3-2), as against Rennes (1-0) and Brest (3-1) last month. It is definitely not good to be Breton when you come to the Vélodrome this season.
And to get this victory, Jorge Sampaoli had to change everything tactically at half-time after an indigestible first period from his players (75% possession of the ball, but 0 shot on target). A change of paying system which woke up the Marseillais. “It was day and night between the first period and the second“, Florian Thauvin confirmed at the microphone of Canal + after the game.
Led at half-time following a nice goal from Terem Moffi for Lorient (19th), OM took a deep breath with the fast and splendid equalizer from Dimitri Payet in the second period. Completely absent from the debates during the first 45 minutes, the number 10 of Marseille thus scored his first goal of the Sampaoli era with a sublime volley after a header from Arkadiusz Milik (53rd).
But the real hero on the OM side is called Pol Lirola. The right-back loaned this season to Marseille first scored his first goal with OM, just three minutes after Payet’s equalizer (56th). And while Marseille had conceded the equalizer by Moffi – again he, the Nigerian is at 11 goals for his first season in the elite -, and that Milik (52nd, 60th) and especially Payet (63rd) had missed beautiful occasions, Lirola put on his savior cape to give victory to his family with a superb cross strike (90 + 1e).
Thursday, at a pre-match press conference, Sampaoli claimed to have “no ambition in terms of ranking. (…) If we manage to be fifth, so much the better, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to play well. “The Argentine coach emerges from the match with three points, a 6th place and the possibility of putting pressure on Lens (5th), who travels to Brest tomorrow. Quality of play, OM showed a few snatches. interesting sequences.
Marseille can therefore still believe in 5th qualifying place for the new Europa League Conference, even if Rennes is on a good dynamic and Lens can escape the standings in the event of victory in Brest tomorrow. But with Sampaoli and this desire not to let go until the end, OM could surprise more than one during this final sprint. And the Marseille club has, among these three contenders for 5th place, the most affordable calendar at the end of the season.