Marseille knock off Reims’ unbeaten streak and regain second place
Olympique de Marseille handled the pressure perfectly. First that of the Racing Club de Lens which, thanks to its easy victory on Saturday at Angers (3-0), had stolen second place in the standings; then that of the Stade de Reims, impressive solidity for several weeks and which accumulated nineteen games in a row without defeat in Ligue 1 before receiving the Phocaeans, Sunday March 19 evening, at the end of the 28e daytime.
Led by a team that remained in six games without conceding a goal in the league, the Marseillais even managed to reverse the trend thanks to Alexis Sanchez, decisive double scorer, and to inflict the young Belgian coach, Will Still, his first defeat. in the league (2-1) since replacing Oscar Garcia on the Reims bench in October.
In a totally unbridled start to the match, the Rémois therefore struck first from the 13e minute. After a magnificent control, Marshall Munetsi took the ball to the left of the surface before serving back Folarin Balogun, who scored his 17e league goal of the season.
Munetsi has tried everything
Marseille only needed a few minutes to equalise. On the engagement, Thibault De Smet made a big mistake on Cengiz Ünder, delivering a free kick 25 meters in the axis to the Olympians. A golden opportunity that Alexis Sanchez converted with a sublime wrapped shot, with the help of the left post of the cage of Yehvann Diouf (16e).
The vista of the Chilean striker again paid off a quarter of an hour later. After being forgotten by Reims captain Yunis Abdelhamid, Sanchez received alone against Yehvann Diouf a long ball from his own goalkeeper, Pau Lopez, which he only had to push into the back of the net (29e).
Far from being defeated, Reims continued to look for the opener in the second half, and had several opportunities to equalise. First, a header from Munetsi hit the outside of the right post by Pau Lopez (58e), then the Marseille goalkeeper deflected a free kick from Alexis Flips with one hand, which was heading into the skylight (61e).
Munetsi had another chance a few minutes later, but Pau Lopez stopped his shot (66e). On the counter, Nuno Tavarez dribbled Yehvann Diouf out of the Reims area but then completely missed his shot. The midfielder of Reims, Dion Lopy, in turn distinguished himself a few minutes later with a powerful shot at the entrance to the surface, stopped without difficulty by Pau Lopez (72e).
Alexis Sanchez as leader, according to Tudor
Marseille never managed to score the K.-O. goal, despite a great opportunity for Samuel Gigot, served alone in the area by Alexis Sanchez, but who did not frame his head (83e). In added time, Reims had a last chance to equalize but Balogun saw his shot hit Lopez’s left post (90+3), sealing Marseille’s success.
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“Winning here is not within everyone’s reach.could appreciate the Marseille coach, Igor Tudor at the end of the match. The spirit and the mentality have been very good. (…). Alexis Sanchez did what leaders do, also in the dressing room at half-time. We are lucky to have him with us. »
Provisionally overtaken on Saturday by Lens (57 pts), the Olympians recovered their second place in the standings with 59 points, seven points behind the leader, Paris SG, defeated earlier on Sunday by Rennes (2-0).
With 43 points, Reims fell to 9e rank, overtaken by Lorient (8e44 pts), and experienced his first setback under the Still era, whose personal series of invincibility lasted seventeen games. “I can only be proud because few teams will play nineteen matches without losing, and will put this Marseille team in difficultyanalyzed the Reims technician. Maybe I become a real coach after losing…. We wrote a very good story during nineteen games, we have to write another one, because there are ten games left to play. »