It was a very light plane that landed in Amsterdam on Wednesday, September 20, early in the afternoon. Pablo Longoria, president of Olympique de Marseille (OM), as well as the main managers, were not traveling for the Marseille club’s first match in the Europa League against Ajax Amsterdam. Everyone got together “withdrawn” after the stormy meeting between OM management and its supporters on Monday.
These events, which caused the fall of Spanish coach Marcelino – replaced for the moment by Jacques Abardonado – do not seem to have disturbed the Marseillais. Very diligent for 90 minutes, Olympique de Marseille managed to come back twice to win their first point in the Europa League (3-3).
Falling against an equally sick Ajax Amsterdam team – twelfth in the Dutch championship with only one victory in four games – Jacques Abardonado succeeded in his mission, offering a more than suitable score in the Johan Cruijff Arena. It remains to be seen whether the native of Marseille, very popular at OM but who had never coached professionally, will be renewed for the next meetings.
Jonathan Clauss in great shape
At the very moment when the XV of France was using the Stade-Vélodrome in Marseille to make short work of Namibia in the World Cup (96-0 victory), Valentin Rongier’s teammates had a much more complex task: to make abstraction of a surreal context to try to bring back the best possible result from Amsterdam.
Under the eyes of Jean-Pierre-Papin, club ambassador, everything was not simple. From the 9e minute of play, Chancel Mbemba was surprised by the speed of young Carlos Forbs, 19 years old. The Portuguese striker, Manchester City player last season, was quick to convert the Congolese defender’s effort, which went completely through the Ajax goalkeeper’s clearance (1-0, 9e).
A few minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not as surgical when winning his face-to-face after an error by the local defense. A bad choice by the Gabonese striker immediately punished since, on the following action, Pau Lopez bowed to the volley from Steven Berghuis, left strangely alone in the Marseille area (2-0, 19e minute).
But, pushed by their 2,600 supporters present in the visitor’s park, OM would quickly find hope thanks to the man in good form at the start of the season. Jonathan Clauss, after a subtle hook, reduced the score with a cross shot into the area (2-1, 22e). Uninhibited, the Marseillais pressed high on the pitch, which would allow them to get back into the match. Aubameyang, taking advantage of the largesse of the young Dutch guard, equalized with a “tackle strike” in Marseille’s full time (2-2, 37e). Authors of a first period full of desire, still marked by their defensive errors, the Marseillais could even have returned to the locker room in front of the score if Jay Gorter had not worked on a long shot from Azzedine Ounahi (43e).
Aubameyang as savior
Forward play, defenses in difficulty… The perfect recipe for a football match to be pleasant to watch would continue to take effect in the second act. It was the Amsterdam players who first reignited the hostilities, through Kenneth Taylor, put into orbit by Carlos Forbs, first scorer of the match (3-2, 57e). Not imperial on this achievement, Pau Lopez would become so until the end of the match to not concede any more goals.
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Relying on newfound defensive solidity and an over-motivated coach in his technical area, OM had no trouble moving forward after this new goal. Energized by the entries of Jordan Veretout and Vitinha on the hour mark, the Marseillais managed to get the equalizer, once again thanks to Aubameyang (3-3, 77e). Shifted to the left wing, the former Barcelona player entered the area and came to shoot the Amsterdam goalkeeper a quarter of an hour from the end of the match.
At the end of the match which could have gone one way or the other, the Marseillais managed to keep a point, oh so important in the current context of the club. At a press conference, the Marseille coach appeared almost frustrated: “I’m proud even if I’m still a little hungry, because we could have gone for victory. I knew that the players were going to get going again and that we could score the goal that would free us. They had a good reaction and good behavior, we have to be proud of them tonight. My future ? I am available to the club. If tomorrow my president asks me to leave with the reserve, I will do so without problem. » If the adventure of “Pancho” is extended, his next mission is obvious: to make PSG doubt, Sunday, at the Parc des Princes, for the “clasico”.