Marseille claimed a laborious 2-1 victory against Nice to progress to their 3rd consecutive Coupe de la Ligue final. In a match which contained few chances, Brandao’s strike just after the interval proved to be decisive and Deschamps’ men managed to claim a battling success. Compared to the previous night’s semi-final between Lorient and Lyon, this was pretty forgettable but the most important thing for OM was that they made it through to the final.
There is actually very little to report about in the first half, although amazingly two goals were scored in it. The first fell to OM in just the 15th minute when Remy turned in the area and sent a superb curling shot into the back of the net. It was a truly superb strike and Remy justified why Spurs bid a rumoured £18M for him during the recent transfer window.
OM led and they generally had control of proceedings in the first period, although Nice were never out of the game. The visitors had failed to create anything substantial until they scored a surprise equaliser not long before HT. Remy gave the ball away sloppily and the end result was a move in which Mounier was left with a generous tap in to make it 1-1. Nobody could argue with a drawn score-line at the interval, neither team had really been on top. How on earth a couple of goals had been scored though was amazing, considering the lack of chances.
The 2nd half started out in much the same way, little action and no chances. Then, out of nowhere, Brandao picked up on a loose ball inside the area and struck first time past Ospina into the net. It was a terrifically instinctive strike from the Brazilian, who once again came up trumps with a crucial goal in a cup match. Nice didn’t look like they could threaten much, so from now on it was about whether OM could manage the game effectively or not.
Just after the hour mark the match turned, when Valbuena was controversially sent off for a 2nd yellow card. It was ridiculously given for him taking a free kick too early! Honestly, it was a pathetic decision by the referee and quite clearly wrong! Obviously it was a blow to go down to 10 men, but you wouldn’t have realised it and OM maintained their lead pretty comfortably.
The referee was at the centre of attention again in the 82nd minute when he sent off Nice striker Abraham Dja Djedje. This was for a supposed elbow on Azpi, but replays showed this was non-existent and any arm motion purely unintentional. So again, the referee made a poor decision, but maybe he was trying to even things up? Who knows.
The end of the game saw Nice throw more caution to the wind leaving more gaps at the back. Both Remy and Kabore had good chance to extend OMs lead and make sure of the victory, but in the end Deschamps’ men had to settle for a 2-1 win. But it’s the win that matters most and another trip to Le Stade de France awaits OM where they will face Lyon. It promises to be a terrific final, can OM win the trophy for a 3rd straight season?
Man of the match :- Brandao
This was a match in which no player had an exceptional performance. The title of MOM was always going to be between Remy and Brandao, but because Remy gave the ball away for the Nice goal then Brandao takes it. He scored the crucial winner and showed a killer touch when it mattered most. He had one chance during the game and took it clinically.
Steve (@MarseilleUK & @meatmansoccer)