A thrilling encounter in Marseille ended 5-2, as Dimitri Payet’s moment of individual brilliance determined the aggregate winner.
Leipzig came to Stade Velodrome with a 1-0 advantage from the first leg in Germany. It was somewhat surprising to see the lone goalscorer Timo Werner on the bench. That was one of the three changes made by Hassenhuttl. Kevin Kampl and Marcel Sabitzer started in place of Emil Forsberg and Werner, while Stefan Ilsanker replaced the injured Konrad Laimer. Rudi Garcia was overjoyed to have Florian Thauvin back in the nick of time. He and Maxi Lopez were in the starting eleven instead of Lucas Ocampos and Zambo Anguissa. Jean-Kevin Augustin and Konstaninos Mitroglou led each team’s attacks.
We had a shocking start to the game. After just 2 minutes, the guests took the league through a strike by winger Jeffrey Bruma. Keita made a run, found Augustin in the box, he kept the ball alive and Bruma ran into it, powering it past the keeper. The away goal meant that Marseille needed to score three to catch Leipzig’s lead. Marseille took the first step towards those three in the 6th minute through an unlucky own goal after a corner kick. Bouna Sarr struck next, and all of a sudden Marseille’s massive task didn’t look so unrealistic. An accurately executed counter attack ended up in Mitroglou’s feet. The Greek striker took two shots. Both of them were magnificently saved by Peter Gulacsi, but the Hungarian keeper couldn’t save the third one from Sarr. The defense was standing still while he flew in and fired a shot through the legs of one of the defenders. We had three goals in the first 10 minutes – an ideal start for the neutral fan.
There was delirium in the 17th minute when Dimitri Payet scored a wonderful trademark goal from 20 meters out. However, a brainless and needless foul by Mitroglou away from the ball forced the referee to disallow the goal. Bouna Sarr had to leave the game in the 29th minute due to a shoulder injury and was replaced by Adil Rami. It was a curious substitution. It meant that Luiz Gustavo was going to move to his natural defensive midfield role. Florian Thauvin made his presence felt in the 38th minute. A set piece that came off Payet’s masterful foot landed on Thauvin’s. Marseille’s best player this season found the net and it was 3-1 for the home team that took the aggregate lead. That’s how we went into the half.
The second half opened with a tremendous opportunity for Marseille. Thauvin found Mitroglou, whose shot was saved by Leipzig’s goalkeeper, who deflected the ensuing attempt by Amavi as well. If it wasn’t for Gulacsi, Garcia’s men would’ve had a bigger lead. In the 55th minute of the match, the visitors converted their second chance and jumped ahead on aggregate. Naby Keita neatly backheeled the ball to Augustin, who fired a shot past the goalie and gave Leipzig a 3-2 lead. It didn’t last long, though. A few minutes later, a piece of individual brilliance by Payet put Marseille back on top by two goals. The game was wide open, the crowd was fired up, it was a fantastic match to watch.
In the meantime, four substitutions were made. Forsberg, Poulsen and Bernardo came in for the Germans, whereas Ocampos replaced Thauvin for the French. Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa replaced a tired Payet in the 83rd minute. Rudi Garcia made a clear statement with the change. He was going to protect the advantage Olympique worked so hard to earn. Leipzig had one last opportunity with a 94th minute corner kick. Gulasci went forward, but a poor execution of the set piece gave Marseille a 3-on-2 counter attack. Sakai scored in the empty net and the home team was officially through. What a game!