The defeats keep coming for Olympique de Marseille (OM), but this one has a slightly less bitter taste: despite a setback (1-2), Thursday April 11 in Lisbon against Benfica, their fifth in a row in all competitions, the Phocaeans were able to preserve the dream of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Europa League.

The evening ended under the loud whistles of the Portuguese supporters, disappointed and frustrated, and with a few moments of timid communion between the OM players and their supporters, whose presence at the Luz stadium remained very uncertain until ‘in the middle of the afternoon.

It must be said that there was no reason to triumph for the Marseillais either, because when Benfica led 2-0, a new shipwreck seemed in sight. But OM were at least courageous when they could have foundered. There is thus a real high-stakes, thrill-filled match on Thursday, April 18, at the Stade-VĂ©lodrome.

Fragile DIY

However, the start of the match was difficult for Marseille and after ten balanced minutes, the superiority of the Portuguese became more and more obvious. It materialized in the 16th minute through Rafa Silva, after a collective action (1-0).

Despite a few opportunities, OM initially showed a lack of offensive confidence. On a few corners and on a few not very well played shots, notably by Amine Harit, Marseille could have come back. Instead, it was with yet another very bad news that OM returned to the locker room, with the injury of their left side Quentin Merlin, obviously seriously injured in the left knee (45th).

While the return of Chancel Mbemba had pushed Jean-Louis Gasset to adopt a three-way defense, the exit of Merlin placed Luis Henrique on the left side and Mbemba on the right side, a baroque organization and symbolic of the workforce difficulties of the OM, burdened this season by injuries.

From the restart, Benfica easily took advantage of Marseille’s fragile DIY with a counter perfectly launched and perfectly concluded by the former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player Angel Di Maria (52nd, 2-0), always so inspired .

Tenth goal in the Europa League for Aubameyang

In technical distress, Marseille nevertheless found a little light in the 67th minute. On a pass from new arrival Azzedine Ounahi, in depth for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, OM reduced the gap. The Gabonese, author of his tenth goal in the Europa League (twenty-five in all competitions) did not tremble to open his right foot in front of Anatoli Troubine (2-1).

Invigorated by this goal and by the prospect of a suspenseful return match on Thursday at the VĂ©lodrome, OM, who are going through a delicate season, then managed the end of the match better by worrying Benfica, who had almost fallen against Toulouse in dams.

This is the third French defeat in a European competition this week, after those suffered by PSG in the Champions League on Wednesday (2-3 against FC Barcelona) and by LOSC on Thursday against Aston Villa in the quarterfinals. final first leg of the Europa Conference League (1-2). Note that in the Europa League, in OM’s part of the table, Atalanta Bergamo created a sensation by winning (3-0) on Liverpool’s pitch.