French rivals Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais shared a 1-1 draw in Ligue 1 action at Stade Velodrome on Sunday that leaves Rudi Garcia’s men three points behind league leaders Lille OSC and Jorge Sampaoli’s new side outside of the European qualifying spots as he takes over. The Argentine was not on the bench this weekend but will have watched as OM fought back from a goal down to take a point against their 10-man visitors.
Lyon went ahead through Karl Toko Ekambi after 21 minutes but Marseille leveled on the stroke of half-time through Arkadiusz Milik’s controversial penalty after Lucas Paqueta’s handball. Neither side could find a winner as the encounter turned heated in the second half and Paqueta saw red as Lyon finished with 10 men.
Here are five takeaways from the match:
Jorge Sampaoli arrives in Marseille this coming week to take up his new role as OM coach and he will have seen plenty in the Lyon match to know that he has a big task on his hands. Les Phoceens are currently in seventh place, adrift of any form of European qualification and Frank McCourt’s plans for the future with Pablo Longoria as Chairman will require some form of continental football. Sampaoli will have to make do with the squad that he inherits from Andre Villas-Boas via Nasser Larguet in the knowledge that significant changes are coming this summer regardless of the final Ligue 1 position.
Tense title tussle
This draw creates an intriguing scenario in Ligue 1 where the top four are separated by as many points. Lille lead the way on 59, two ahead of PSG in second. Lyon are a point behind in third with Monaco one point further back in fourth. No other title race across Europe’s top leagues is as close and Le Championnat promises to go the distance with the defending champions PSG having fared so poorly against their title rivals this season.
OL’s Ligue 1 title bid continues to falter after they threw away the lead against Marseille before imploding toward the end of the match. Toko Ekambi put Garcia’s men in front before Paqueta was penalized for handball to gift OM their equalizer but that was after Les Gones switched off once in front and then failed to regain control of the encounter in the second half. Paqueta’s dismissal capped a disappointing evening when it had started so well with the opening goal.
Flurry of whistles
As is often the case in France, the referee took center stage with a string of debatable decisions and a flurry of cards. Paqueta was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area despite the ball hitting his body first and Marseille equalized from the resulting penalty while the Brazilian later saw red for a second bookable offense when the incident alone was arguably worthy of a straight red. A burst of yellows 12 minutes from time added to the late tension as Depay had a potential winning goal ruled out for offside.
A steadier Marseille
Although it has not been a spectacular turnaround, Larguet can sign off satisfied to have steadied the ship after the chaos that OM were in when Villas-Boas was dismissed. Sampaoli will arrive with work to do but Coupe de France progress and an unbeaten run with a win over OGC Nice in the middle should be considered mission accomplished for the Moroccan, who has helped to make the team more solid on the pitch. Milik finding his scoring boots early on since his arrival from SSC Napoli could make a big difference between now and the end of the season.