Supporter's View | Njie brings new dimension to help OM to victorymon 07 Aug at 11:59
Dijon are typically a tricky team that often step up their game massively when they face the Olympians. You may recall their last visit, resulting in a 1-1 draw in the spring – a point claimed by the imperious boot of Dimitri Payet striking a wonderful free-kick. You may also recall the tetchy, nervous victory at a foggy Stade Gaston-Gerard, a game remembered for Maxime Lopez’s first professional goal.
Dijon are no pushovers.
And so it proved in an edgy tactical battle in the first half of a sweltering Velodrome. Oliver Dall’Oglio’s men set the early tempo, producing counter-attack after counter-attack on an OM side keen to strike the early blow. The wide play of Chang-Hoon Kwon and Naim Sliti were troublesome for the OM defence, yet even their best efforts struggled to seriously test Steve Mandanda.
The first half proved ultimately a dull affair, with Florian Thauvin’s well-struck free-kick the only highlight in what was a laborious exercise for OM, who were struggling to breach Dijon in their attacking build-up.
Step forward Clinton Njie, who replaced captain Dimitri Payet at half-time.
For whatever reason Payet departed the field at the interval, coach Garcia’s decision to bring on the Cameroon international proved a masterstroke. Njie, whose transfer from Tottenham was made official this summer immediately changed the dynamics of the game.
A fearless performer with bundles of pace, his entry exposed Dijon’s defensive weaknesses, allowing OM to create more chances. And it paid off in just five and a half minutes. A wonderful cross from Valere Germain found Njie, who put himself in a slightly awkward position in front of the defender to head past Baptiste Reynet.
Soon after, Thauvin – already a big hit in the Ligue 1 Conforama after last season – made it 2-0 with a mazy run that beat Reynet too easily on his left post.
With OM now in comfort and in total control, the floodgates opened. Njie grabbed the highlight of the match with a perfect dribbling run – nutmegging Florent Balmont – before chipping over the goalkeeper, via a deflection to seal OM’s win. It could’ve been a fourth, had Germain not been denied by the crossbar late on.
With rivals similarly posting big victories this weekend, it was important for the team to match them with a confidence boosting victory of its own – a feat achieved with convincing success.
Meanwhile, Njie has offered Rudi Garcia a taste of what is to come. It is always hugely beneficial to the team when players on the bench make a game-changing impact. For Njie, there will be further hope he can make a similar impact either as a starter or a substitute in the weeks ahead.
After all, he has already reached 50% of his goal totals from last season already!
So, it is week 1, win 1. A job well done – and we look forward to a confirmation away to FC Nantes next weekend.