Marseille put the pressure on Lens and PSG on Wednesday evening after beating Nantes at Stade de la Beaujoire. After a cagey start, Les Phocéens entered second gear and benefited from the hosts’ mistakes to pull ahead in the second half. Meanwhile, Les Canaris failed again to prove dangerous as Marseille goalkeeper Pau López’s evening was mostly untroubled.
The hosts went toe-to-toe with the third-placed side, but were hampered by a glaring lack of imagination as the faultless OM defense pressed them into mistakes. Whilst Nantes’ attacking woes continue, Marseille saw a bit more of the ball and had the best opportunities of the first half. Ukrainian international Ruslan Malinovskyi went close with an expertly-taken free kick just wide of Alban Lafont’s left post. A testament to the clumsiness and intensity on display, Nantes and Marseille had more yellow cards than shots on target in the opening act.
The second half was far more entertaining. Ignatius Ganago first went close with a point-blank header but he mistimed his run completely. Then, former Nantes man Jordan Veretout was through on goal thanks to a deflection but he lost his composure and put the ball wide. Then came the Marseille goal, from an unlikely hero. Nuno Tavares dribbled past the Nantes’ defence and laid a good through ball in the box for Cengiz Ünder. The Turkish winger was tackled by João Victor, who slipped on the ball. It rebounded off the Brazilian centre-back and completely sidefooted the onrushing Lafont.
Marseille were now in control as Les Canaris rushed to salvage a point. Les Phocéens were more than pleased to give the ball away to Nantes and rely on counter-attacking play. On one such situation, French international Jonathan Clauss was put through on goal but his cheeky chip from outside the box went just wide. Evann Guessand and Ignatius Ganago both went close in the dying minutes but Marseille were not to be denied an important victory. Azzedine Ounahi put the icing on the cake by making a mockery of Andrei Girotto before coolly dispatching past Lafont. Even after a somewhat unconvincing display, OM were worthy winners.
Nantes player ratings
Alban Lafont, 5 – The Nantes keeper stayed alert and showcased his reading of the game as well as his aerial ability. He’s not at fault on the goal. Distribution was mediocre though.
Fabien Centonze, 5
João Victor, 3 – The Benfica loanee started very well by keeping things simple and did a brilliant block against Malinovskyi in the second half. But his clumsy tackle on Ünder proved his side’s undoing. Rough start.
Andrei Girotto, 4
Charles Traoré, 3
Moussa Sissoko, 4 – The former Tottenham man looks off the pace with the rythm of play and does not show the leadership qualities expected of him.
Pedro Chirivella, 4 – The former Red slipped on a ball that could have proven disastrous for the home side in the first half. A bit out of sorts.
Florent Mollet, 4.
Ludovic Blas, 3 –The electric Nantes playmaker was nowhere near his best. He lost countless balls and his decision-making was dubious at best.
Ignatius Ganago, 3 –Expertly manhandled by OM’s defense, but he should have done better with a close range header early in the second half
Moses Simon, 3
Marseille player ratings
Pau Lopez, 5
Samuel Gigot, 6
Chancel Mbemba, 6
Leonardo Balerdi, 6
Nuno Tavares, 7 – Back from suspension, the very energetic Arsenal loanee regularly found pocket of spaces in Nantes’ half. He provided the spark by finding Ünder on the box on the opening goal.
Sead Kolašinac, 6 – Another fine outing from the former Arsenal man in the left wing-back role. A solid defensive asset and a reliable attacking outlet.
Valentin Rongier, 5
Jordan Veretout, 5
Ruslan Malinovskyi, 6 – The Atalanta loanee was the most dangerous Marseille man but his final touch let him down. Replaced at the half-hour mark by Mattéo Guendouzi.
Cengiz Ünder, 5 – The former Leicester man tried to combine in tight spaces with Sanchez on his right side, but his play was mostly predictable. No threat came from his dead-ball opportunities. Still, he’s heavily involved in the goal.
Alexis Sánchez, 5 – The former Arsenal forward thrives in his “false nine – real threat” role by stretching out the Nantes’ defensive line with his energy and runs. Replaced by Azzedine Ounahi, who scored a brilliant solo goal in the dying minutes.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval