Undermined by internal tensions and jostled in Caen, Olympique de Marseille knew how to stay focused on the sporting aspect to overcome Granville (National 2) and qualify for the knockout stages of the Coupe de France, Friday ( 3-0).
For 75 minutes, unable to unlock his counter, OM was not far from elimination, which would have been synonymous with a dark week, between dissatisfaction of coach André Villas-Boas with his management , and death threats against President Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
But as often with Marseille this season, the matches end up turning in the right direction. And Friday, it is the Spanish defender Alvaro Gonzalez who held the OM house at arm's length, allowing the Phocaeans, with a late goal, to get out of a trap match at the other end of France (77th ) before Nemanja Radonjic doubles the bet (83rd) and Dimitri Payet extinguishes the Ornano stadium with a striking jewel (90th + 2).
Rewound to its management at a press conference on Wednesday after learning of the appointment of an English special adviser supposed to facilitate the sale of several players, Villas-Boas can breathe: its players have been able to continue their beautiful series of invincibility, which has always held since the end of October.
But what difficulties! Deprived of their captain Steve Mandanda, spared, the Marseillais have multiplied the blunders despite a slew of opportunities.
- Unfortunate exclusion -
Only winners on penalties in their 32nd finals against Trélissac (N2), the Phocaeans had already been warned of the dangers of competition, and of the event that the meeting represented for their evening opponents, standard bearers of all of Normandy with this relocation to Caen, used to Ligue 2 matches.
The songs of some 19,500 spectators, between local supporters, the vast majority, and Marseille fans also very numerous, gave energy to the Granvillais, who did not refuse to play and were much brighter than suggested by the three divisions which separate the two clubs.
And it was finally on a stroke of fate that the meeting settled, when with an involuntary hand on the face of Valentin Rongier, William Sea got a second yellow card synonymous with exclusion (75th). The unfortunate one left by apologizing to the public, but the damage was done: on the free kick, Gonzalez appeared, and six minutes later, Radonjic closed the proceedings, before Payet, with a sublime strike in the skylight , will definitely make the evening go from winding to rather satisfactory.
The absence - usual on the move - of President Eyraud, the target of insulting chants on Friday after the week's soap opera that prompted him to file a complaint for death threats, in any case enabled the Marseillais to have nothing to worry about. than the match, which they finally managed to do.
OM also avoided other controversies by planning upstream to donate part of its revenue for the match (travel expenses deducted) to its opponent, a tradition for elite clubs opposed to amateurs that Marseille had decided not to respect in the previous round.
In the round of 16, the men of André Villas-Boas may finally come across a professional club and will no longer have this dilemma to manage. Above all, they will have the opportunity to take another step towards their first title since 2012. And to forget the tensions.
© 2020 AFP