Marseille drop vital points at Lorient

Easter Sunday saw high-flying Marseille travel to mid-table Lorient, with the Olympians hoping to maintain their Champions League position whilst putting pressure on Lens and Paris-Saint Germain above them.

LOR: Mannone; Le Goff, Talbi, Meïté; Yongwa, Makengo, Ponceau, Cathline; Aouchiche, Faivre; Dieng

OM: Lopez; Balerdi, Gigot, Kolasinac; Clauss, Tavares, Veretout, Rongier; Guendouzi, Under; Sanchez

In what was a physical opening ten minutes, Lorient’s Romain Faivre saw the best opportunity, after he latched onto a mis-kick from Leonardo Balerdi to run in behind, but he produced a scuffed shot that failed to trouble Pau Lopez in the Marseille goal.

Marseille saw a good opportunity to go ahead after 12 minutes, when Alexis Sanchez found Cengiz Under with room in the box, but the Turkey international was denied by Vito Mannone in who got a strong hand to the ball.

Former Arsenal and Hoffenhiem full-back Sead Kolasinac appeared to be finding it difficult to settle into the match, as he gave away a free kick on 20 minutes and the ball dropped kindly for Faivre, who connected well but Lopez managed to keep his grip.

In what became a stop-start opening 30 minutes of the game, neither side were able to play with the fluidity required to create many openings to goal. A few players lost their footing at times, as the turf began to come up and disrupt play.

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Marseille looked most dangerous through Sanchez – playing in his preferred central role – as he looked to release Under with a left-footed cross that was slightly over hit.

Ten minutes before the break, Mannone mistakenly presented the ball to Under after getting a clearance wrong, but wasn’t punished as the forward curled a left-footed effort wide of the post.

The visitors started to up the tempo as the half grew old, with Sanchez in the thick of the action, driving at the Lorient back line to win a free kick. Under’s delivery wasn’t cleared effectively, and Balerdi fizzed in a powerful strike that was well blocked by Bamo Meïté.

With 40 minutes on the clock, Marseille were able to find opportunities to create chances by utilising the wings, as Jonathan Clauss put in a cross to his opposite wing-back Nuno Tavares, who saw his effort closed down before it reached Mannone’s goal.

But the first half would end goalless, with neither side really showing any form of consistency in forward areas, where chances were few and far between.

The second half got underway and it was Marseille who immediately looked to push forward, as Sanchez – the visitors main threat – looped a clever ball into Under’s path, but he miscued his shot that drifted wide of the target.

Minutes later, Lorient looked to respond with a chance of their own, and it came in the form of Adil Aouchiche who shot narrowly wide from just outside the 18-yard box.

Marseille’s next opening surprisingly came from Baledri who had ventured forward from defence, but he completely miscued a shot that posed no trouble for Mannone.

With an hour played, Marseille started to look a frustrated bunch, as passes began to be forced which resulted in balls being carelessly given away on a number of occasions.

The lack of creativity from Marseille allowed Lorient to pounce, and they had their best chance of the match when striker Bamba Dieng latched onto a ball that broke loose in the box, who unleashed a left-footed shot the forced a save from Lopez down to his right to keep the game goalless.

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Lorient always had to maintain a high level of concentration at the back and this was showcased well through 21-year-old Meïté, who put in a solid performance, as he was always ready to close down any form of Marseille attack at each given moment. Tavares in particular found it difficult to get past the defender from Ivory Coast.

With just ten minutes remaining, Marseille coach Igor Tudor looked to his bench. One change in particular appeared to be a vital one in adding some creativity to the pitch, with Ukrainian playmaker Ruslan Malinovskyi replacing the more defensively-minded Matteo Guendouzi.

Despite the introduction of Malinovksi, it was Lorient who grew some belief that they could take all three points, as Lopez was urgently required to rush out of his goal to prevent substitute Ibrahima Kone from getting the winner in the final few minutes.

Deep into the four minutes of injury time, Lorient manager Regis Le Bris would’ve been pleased with how his side were not afraid of looking to punish Marseille for a lacklustre display, but the game ultimately ended 0-0 after a dismal display overall.

Marseille stay in third place, now two points behind Lens, whilst Lorient also maintained their position in 10th, seven points adrift of a European place. Marseille will be eager to put this performance behind them, as they host Troyes next Sunday. Lorient travel to Monaco in what looks to be a tricky fixture on paper, but they will be boosted by a good defensive outing.