Olympique de Marseille trailed Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain by seven points ahead of their clash against Montpellier HSC on Friday night. Igor Tudor’s Marseille side would have to endure a tough fight though – despite their relatively average league position, Montpellier were enjoying a great run of form, having won their three final fixtures before the recent international break.
OM: Blanco; Kolasinac, Gigot, Rongier; Tavares, Veretout, Guendouzi, Clauss; Sanchez, Malinovskyi; Vitinha
MPL: Lecomte; Sylla, Kouyate, Jullien, Sacko; Leroy, Chotard; Khazri, Savannier, Nordin; Wahi
Marseille started the game strongly, and appeared confident in their passing – but it was Montpellier that took the lead after 12 minutes. Elye Wahi found Arnaud Nordin with a great pass, and Nordin powered a low strike into the bottom right corner to give the visitors an early advantage at the Velodrome.
Jonathan Clauss could have levelled the scores with 36 minutes on the clock, but the wing-back’s shot was sliced just wide of the near post! Marseille didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity though, as Mamadou Sakho handled the ball inside the area. Thomas Leonard, the referee in charge of this Ligue 1 clash consulted VAR – who advised him to award a penalty. Matteo Guendouzi duly fired home from the spot, sending his strike from twelve yards out into the bottom-left.
Clauss’ crosses in from the right flank looked to pose a real threat to Montpellier throughout the game, yet their solid defence was able to deal with each and every one of his balls into the box. In fact, Montpellier had been the most impressive of the two sides – certainly in terms of attacking output, as Wahbi Khazri also came close for the visitors. The Tunisian unleashed a thunderous strike from the edge of the box, forcing a phenomenal save from Ruben Blanco to prevent the ball from crashing into the back of the net.
Marseille became visibly more desperate in the final fifteen minutes or so – with both Alexis Sanchez and Ruslan Malinovskyi attempting to propel their side into the lead. Sanchez’s effort was rather speculative, and he sent his long-range strike into space. Malinovskyi’s chance was much closer, but the Ukrainian dragged his shot a fraction wide of the post!
Ultimately though, neither side could find the breakthrough they needed – and the game came to a close with both teams sharing the spoils. A point certainly doesn’t help Marseille in their bid to catch up with Paris Saint-Germain; it looks as if the Parisiens have the title in the bag already.