Marseille travelled to Lorraine looking to maintain their 100% record, but they had to do so without a number of players. Amalfitano and Barton were suspended, whilst Abdallah, Mendes, Remy were injured. It meant that youngster Rafine Abdullah was given a starting spot in the centre of midfield and he performed very well. To put a long story short, OM completely dominated this match and only losing 0-1 completely flattered Nancy. The visitors were clearly the most dominant side and should’ve won by at least a 2 or 3 goal margin, maybe by more!
Chances were plentiful and the main guilty party in the first half was Gignac. Augusts’ player of the month couldn’t miss in the first few weeks of the season, but it seemed like he needed target practice here because he was out of touch. He worked Assembe a couple of times to make good saves, but certainly should’ve scored at least one goal and was very wasteful. Andre Ayew had a shot cleared off the line by Muratori too as Nancy somehow hung on. Remarkably, the scoreline was 0-0 at HT and the hosts had yet to have a veritable chance!
The 2nd half started with a bad injury to Haidara who it took many minutes to be stretchered off. Funnily enough, his loss forced Nancy into a change of formation in
which they looked a bit better. But OM were still on top and took the lead thanks to an excellent Jordan Ayew diving header in the 52nd minute. Ironically, it was his brother Andre who supplied the cross form the left hand side. Finally OM had the goal they deserved, but Nancy responded fairly well and had a good 10-15 mins where they tried to get back into the game.
But truth be told, OM never really looked threatened though and at the other end they had chances to double their advantage but couldn’t take them. The closest Nancy came to equalising was through a mad scramble in the area which led to a goal-line clearance. The ‘old’ OM would have drawn or lost this match, but it seems under Elie Baup things are different. The one worry here was the lack of clinicality in front of goal, apart from that it was a very confident and pleasing performance.
Four days later, Le Phoceen travelled to Istanbul to take on Fenebarche. Joey Barton made his first start for OM here and also N’Diaye was given a spot in the XI. Some general rotation had taken place and statistically Fenerbarce were favourites with the bookies. OM remarkably scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to rescue a point which seemed all but gone. Baup’s men dominated most of the match but somehow found themselves a couple of goals behind.
It was a virtual repeat of the Nancy game where OM missed chance after chance, expect this time they weren’t so fortunate at the other end and the Turks were clinical. Erkin gave them the lead on the half hour mark thanks to an angled volley which somehow slipped underneath Steve Mandanda. The custodian must shoulder some of the responsibility for conceding that goal, he knows he should’ve saved it really. Worst was to come in the 2nd half when Alex found himself completely unmarked in the middle and headed home to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute.
Under normal circumstances you’d think game over, but this OM team doesn’t know when its beaten. They kept knocking on the door and amazingly hit the woodwork 3 times in this match! But it did look like a lost cause until 7 minutes from the end some trickery by Valbuena opened up a gap for him in the box and he finished coolly. What followed was an intense period of OM pressure and they were desperate to get something out of the match. It didn’t look like it would come, but in the last minute of stoppage time Andre Ayew crashed home a header to ensure they went back home with a share of the spoils.
This means that Elie Baup is still unbeaten in a competitive match as OM coach.
So a couple of really good and encouraging performances last week for OM and they will hope to maintain their excellent start by beating Evian on Sunday. Then they get a well deserved week off before the grind of domestic and European action returns.