Dominant and finally effective, OM won their first victory of the season in the Europa League by beating AEK Athens (3-1), a friendly club, on Thursday in a magnificent atmosphere.
The days leading up to the match allowed us to tell the story of the old and quite unique friendship between the supporters of the two clubs. It was once again celebrated on Thursday by an exceptional tifo deployed by Virage Sud, then by a superb atmosphere throughout the match. For the Marseillais, the celebration was all the more beautiful as the players responded on the pitch, with another good performance, this time crowned with three points.
After some frustrating results - the 2-2 draw against Brighton or the narrow defeats at Monaco (3-2) and Nice (1-0) - Gennaro Gattuso hoped for a reward for his team and they got it. Immediately enterprising, OM first displayed the qualities and faults that have characterized it since the arrival of the Italian. The 2006 world champion's team looks forward but is often panicked as the goal approaches, like Iliman Ndiaye.
The first two chances of the match were in fact offered to the Senegalese striker by opponent blunders, but he initially crushed his shot too much (5th), before being caught in the act of lack of spontaneity (20th) . Ndiaye again had a third chance, this time well saved by Cican Stankovic, the opposing goalkeeper (23rd), and we also found him opening the score five minutes later. On the right side, it was in fact he who launched Jonathan Clauss, whose center was victoriously taken over by Vitinha, starting in place of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, for a goal validated after a stressful check at the VAR (1-0, 27th).
Vitinha eye-catching, Geoffrey Kondogbia finally on point physically: OM then seemed clearly superior to the Greeks, who only obtained rare ammunition from set pieces, often offered by carelessness from Leonardo Balerdi. But after opening the scoring, as often, Gattuso's OM were caught, as almost always. Returning from the locker room in slow motion, the Marseillais were punished by a lucky goal from Orbelin Pineda (1-1, 53rd).
Everything could then have become complicated, but the AEK goalkeeper Stankovic chose to simplify the life of the Marseillais by chaining two spectacular balls with a missed pass then a tackle on Vitinha, as a tribute to the rugby players who have passed through the Vélodrome in recent weeks . The red card was logical and the penalty indisputable: Amine Harit transformed it and OM went back in front (2-1, 60th).
Less than ten minutes later, the Marseillais changed strikers and it was Jordan Veretout who converted a new penalty, this time generously awarded by the referee for a slight foul by Nordin Amrabat on Renan Lodi (3-1, 69th ). With this success, OM are full of confidence before hosting Lyon on Sunday and place themselves at the top of the difficult Group B, which they may have to share with Ajax Amsterdam if the Dutch beat Brighton in the evening. Above all, this victory and the way in which it was obtained prove that it will undoubtedly be possible to take more points in 15 days in Greece, where the atmosphere should be just as good.