A late Andre Pierre Gignac goal was the difference between the two sides at Le Stade de Hainaut. A draw would’ve probably been a fairer result but OM found a way to sneak all 3 points. This was generally a pretty tight match containing few clear cut chances. OM failed to exploit VAs potential weaknesses, especially in the 2nd half. The only change OM made was a forced one – Benoit Cheyrou in for the injured Gilbert Imbula. They lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, although the attacking quartet were very fluid and roamed around the field a lot. The first half contained relatively little action. In the 5th minute, Dimitri Payet had a shot deflected over the bar as OM generally had control of the game. They were given a massive scare mid-way through the period though when Bahebeck beat the offside trap and found himself all alone in the area. Fortunately for OM, he failed to control the ball properly and it was a massive let off. At the other end, Gignac should’ve scored just moments later when he lobbed just wide following a Penneteau cock up.
Marseille’s number 9 was very active in the 1st half and looking pretty sharp upfront. In the 25th minute he controlled well before unleashing a shot which passed wide of the post. OM were on top at this stage and Andre Ayew had a decent chance on the half hour mark, but his header was saved by Penneteau. The rest of the period went by without major incident, although just before the interval Mathieu Valbuena nearly scored a sensational goal, cracking a volley from over 30 yards out which passed just over the bar. 0-0 was a pretty fair reflection of the 1st half, although OM did appear to have more control and generally looked the more likely to make something happen.
Things weren’t so good after the break for Elie Baup’s men as they struggled to create chances. Valenciennes came into the game more and Mandanda made a good save to deny Bahebeck early on in the period. OM gradually improved and forced a succession of corners on the hour mark, but they couldn’t make their pressure pay off. What followed was a stalemate for about 20 mins before everything kicked back into life towards the end of the game. Mathieu Dossevi had a massive chance for VA but Mandanda saved well. On the rebound, Maor Melikson had an even bigger occasion but somehow fluffed the opportunity. The hosts had blown a massive chance to go ahead and OM would punish them just a few minutes later.
Slack marking from a corner allowed Andre Ayew a free header which Penneteau could only parry. Gignac, ever the poacher was on hand to convert and gave OM a 1-0 lead. With just 5 mins left it looked like OM had sneaked all 3 points. But VA should’ve had their share of the spoils and missed a humongous opportunity with not long left on the clock. A poor error from Nicola Nkoulou allowed Opa Nguette time and space at the back post, but he put his shot wide when it looked harder to miss! Saber Khelifa had come on for OM and he nearly scored what would’ve been a superb individual effort, but his late attempt was well saved by the keeper. That was to be the last piece of action as the final whistle was blown soon after. A very good and hard fought 3 points to pick up. This sort of victory is the sign of a good team who manages to find a way to win when not playing all that well.
Player ratings. Mandanda 6, Fanni 5, Diawara 6, Nkoulou 4, Morel 5, Romao 5, Cheyrou 5, Ayew 6, Valbuena 6, Payet 5, Gignac 7[vimeo 73294721 w=400 h=325]