PLAYER RATINGS | Brighton 1-0 Marseille – late Pedro strike condemns Les Olympiens to Europa League play-offs

Joao Pedro’s late strike sees Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion clinch top spot of Europa League’s Group B , as Marseille will have to content themselves with Champions League opposition in the Europa League play-offs. It was a much anticipated build up for both sides at the Amex Stadium, neither side wanting to face Champions League opposition in the Europa league knockout round. 

It was the Seagulls who began the game on the front foot, creating several early chances through Brazilian Joao Pedro and Ivorian Simon Adingra, with the hosts holding possession in typical De Zerbi fashion. Marseille had a few early forays forward, despite a lack of possession. Brighton keeper Jason Steele was worried when a deflected shot from Jonathan Clauss rattled the cross bar in the 15th minute – but that was as close as it got for the Olympiens in the first period. 

If Gattuso had claimed before the match that playing for a draw would need some ‘divine intervention’, it was exactly the approach that OM were taking in the first period, sitting back whilst the home side tried to find a killer final ball. One Italian boss was sober-looking on the bench, the other was frantically issuing instructions at 200km/h to try and find a way to break the deadlock. 

Marseille grew into second half, but sat too deep

Jonathan Clauss’s cross flashed in front of Steele’s goal-mouth, whilst minutes later Joao Pedro’s swivelled shot wasn’t enough to test Pau Lopez. Half-time came with a lot to improve for both sides.

Brighton’s high press was a big disruption for Gattuso’s side to play out the back, but OM grew slightly into the second half. A glorious chance came the way of the visitors when Amine Harit carved out a shot which hit the post and was needed to be cleared off the line from Jan Paul Van Hecke.

It was then time to roll the dice for De Zerbi, who brought on young Irish striker Evan Ferguson for Adringa. But it was Gattuso’s side who grew into the second half with Brighton failing to capitalise on their chances. Jonathan Clauss’s low shot on goal was the product of some good combination play between Morroco pair Harit and Ounahi, but it was off target – they would soon regret being so wasteful.

Hammer-blow for Marseille, Brighton find late breakthrough

As play reached the final 15 minutes, Albion looked to push for a winner. Evan Ferguson’s strike fizzed just over the bar before a breakthrough was finally found through Joao Pedro for the home side. Pascal Gross fed through the Brazilian with a pinpoint through-ball, and the striker rocketed home in front of the Amex’s North Stand to surely send the hosts to the Europa League round of 16.

With five added minutes remaining, Gattuso’s side could hardly get a foot on the ball, and the final whistle came to confirm their place in the Europa League play-offs. Delight for the Seagulls, disappointment on the South Coast of England for Les Phoceens.


Pau Lopez, 5

Leonardo Balerdi, 5

Chancel Mbemba, 7

Jonathan Clauss, 5

Ronan Lodi, 4

Jordan Veretout, 4

Azzedine Ounahi, 4

Bamo Meïté, 5

Vitinha, 3  – A lacklustre first period for the young Portuguese striker, who hardly touched the ball and cut a frustrated figure up top. He became the first casualty of OM’s timidity, being replaced by Iliman Ndiaye in the second half.

Aubameyang, 4 – A player who looked nothing like the one that has scored seven goals in four games for OM, was subdued and looked somewhat frustrated leading the line with little service. Was bandaged after the game in mixed zone, could suggest a possible injury. 

Amine Harit, 6 – Marseille’s main threat at the Amex, the Moroccan was finding pockets of space and was able to carve out a number of opportunities. He was unlucky to hit the post, but should have converted a later chance against Steele.

Others: Iliman Ndiaye, Ismaila Sarr, Geoffrey Kondogbia, 


Billy Gilmour, 7

Karou Mitoma, 6

Joao Pedro, 7 – The Brazilian with the all-important goal for the Albion, a superb finish and a product of perseverance after being on the end of several opportunities to score throughout. Pedro is this season’s Europa League group stage top-scorer with six goals to his name.

GFFN | George Boxall

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