4 out of 4 in the bag!

12 jul 2017
Photos © 
Jonathan Bartolozzi 2017
Rudi Garcia rotated his team for this 4th match, playing Sakaï, Payet (c), Hubocan and Thauvin. Time to replicate Ocampos' opportunism! NJie (2) and Khaoui scored.
The fourth friendly fixture for Rudi Garcia's team. An important meeting, this game marked the start of the final preparation phase looking ahead to the preliminary qualifying rounds of the Europa League. The Marseille coach chose to add the international players to his line up for the first time (Sakaï, Hubocan, Thauvin and Payet) and to keep the team rotating (Germain, Cabella, Rolando, Evra, Doria... on the bench or resting) due to obligations in the near future. Especially as the fitness levels from player to player are not necessarily the same.
On the opposite side of the pitch were the defending Romanian champions, who have finished their preparation. This was felt as soon as the whistle was blown. Without really suffering because of it, OM didn't manage at the beginning of the match to advance forward due to good Romanian possession. Yet the Romanians didn't manage to create good chances as the Marseille defence, though not used to matches starting this way with Sakaï, Fanni, Hubocan, Rocchia and Escales in the goal, put on a strong show.
Despite this, Gheorghe Hagi's players found their way onto the scoresheet. Though the best opportunities like the two strikes from Georges Tucudean (8th minute and 23rd minute) were saved perfectly by Florian Escales, Bogdan Tiru, off guard after a strong cross from Lucas Ocampos, put the ball into his own net (1-0, 25th minute). The Argentinian, who certainly has more in his legs than some of his other teammates, was all about proving to his coach Rudi Garcia that he was giving his all to show his skill.
All in all, it took OM a good twenty minutes to find their rhythm and open their scoring.

After half time, four changes put Khaoui, Sarr, Sari and Bédimo on for the international players. The Marseille team returned at the beginning of the second half to their form at the start of the match. And the hard-working Viitorul team made the most of it and quickly equalised with a cross from the right.  It was Chitu who equalised with a downward header (1-1, 52nd minute).
The physical divide between the two teams became evident as the time went on. After one hour of play, both teams seemed to be tired. The two coaches, aware of this, increased substitutions.
The transition time gave OM an advantage. It came from the young Rocchia who, from the left side, was assisted by Lopez who had just come on the field, before kicking a perfect cross for Clinton NJie. The player from Cameroon shot skilfully and left no chance for the Romanian goalkeeper (2-1, 63rd minute).
The ex-attacker from Tottenham, who stood out in this encounter, made the most of a poor throw by the Viitorul goalkeeper to get the ball on the halfway line and score his second goal (3-1, 65th minute) with a clear-sighted strike.
Around ten minutes later, Viitorul made their way to the penalty spot after a foul from Bouna Sarr led to the referee showing him a card. The penalty was converted by the captain Romario Benzar (3-2, 76th minute).
But, OM resumed the lead again. This time, it was individual brilliance from Khaoui. The left-footed player got free of his opponents on the right before entering the Romanian box, bringing his foot wide, and kicking an unstoppable lob (4-2, 84th minute).
The Marseille players are growing in strength and now have their 4th win in a row which is always good for morale and the team dynamics. The next match is on Saturday against Fenerbahçe.

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