Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Six matches and then go: for his return to the Champions League after seven years of absence, Marseille ended the group stage with a fifth defeat in six matches, 3-0 on the lawn of Manchester City, which even prohibits access to the Europa League.
To hang on to the C3, André Villas-Boas hoped for a helping hand from "his" Porto.
He had it, since the Portuguese won 2-0 at Olympiakos.
But that was not enough because OM, still better than at the start of the competition, for their part failed to do their share of the work.
A draw would have done the trick given the result of the other match but in the end, OM showed too many gaps at this level and the goal conceded at the last minute of the first match in Piraeus, against a Olympiakos team, however not very formidable (1-0), weighed like a ball.
Marseille and their supporters may also regret not having sought to score a third goal last week against Olympiakos, which would have given them the advantage in direct confrontations against the Greeks.
But AVB and his family now have a free field in Ligue 1, where they are in ambush with their two games late and a schedule now lightened without Europe.
Wednesday in Manchester, Marseille affairs did not look so bad at the break (0-0).
Serious, well organized and even daring during the last quarter of an hour, the Villas-Boas team no longer had the look of a lost beginner that it had displayed during its four initial defeats.
Of course, faced with Pep's credo of pressing, assists and possessions, it took a long time to accept to undergo, even if the opponent was very reshuffled.
But the Provencals were little endangered, with a header from Laporte above (12th) and two shots from Mahrez, one next (33rd) and the first on which Mandanda redeemed himself from his bad recovery with a great handball goalkeeper save (8th).
- terrible second half -
On the Marseille side, Payet, positioned at the forefront, scored a nice goal in a very clear offside position, Kamara was emboldened to inflict a small bridge on Aké then OM even had a real highlight with a series of chances for Germain (41st), Sanson (42nd) and Gueye (43rd).
Above all, the Marseillais were at that moment qualified for the Europa League, because from the 10th minute, Porto led on the lawn of Olympiakos (1-0).
But the return from the locker room was terrible for OM with an immediate goal or almost from Ferran Torres (48th) after a good action but also an assist from ... Germain.
There, everything got complicated.
Sterling entered, the Marseillais saw players of the caliber of De Bruyne or Agüero warm up and the offensive waves followed one another.
There was doubt about Villas-Boas' real desire to aim for C3, but by bringing in Cuisance, Aké or Benedetto at the end of the match to get a goal, the Portuguese played all his cards.
They were not useful and Agüero settled the case on the second time from a corner (77th).
At the very end of the match, Alvaro scored an anecdotal goal against his camp and OM closed their sad European record.
In the draw, OM's group C was presented as "affordable".
In the end, the Marseillais come out with nothing, if not a little more time for the championship.
© 2020 AFP