OM 1-0 Konyaspor: OM get back on form14 sep 2017
There were no big surprises in Rudi Garcia's selection for the season's first Europa League group phase match against Konyaspor. With Mandanda injured, Pelé was in goal for the Olympiens; Amavi replaced Evra on the left of defence; and, most significantly, Kamara was thrown in at the deep end alongside Luiz Gustavo, who returned to the side after his Ligue 1 suspension.
With the attendance down and the end supporters grouped together in the south stand (they didn't come in until 10 minutes into the game and they made themselves noticed…), the atmosphere inside the Vélodrome stadium was strangely unusual. This didn't prevent the Marseille players from dominating both the ball and the game. But out of the four shots OM had in the first half, only one was on target: a long range shot by Payet, which the Turkish goalkeeper managed to stop then catch at the second attempt. Sanson had attempted a volley prior to this but it went over the top. As did a shot from Payet following a good team move begun by Kamara and continued by German and Sanson with some one-touch football. Additionally, Thauvin also shot over the top after a great run by Payet (complete with a nutmeg along the way).
The Turks quietly sat back and waited for Rudi Garcia's men. They did have two counter attacks: the first ended with a shot from Evouna that went wide, and the second came right at the end of the half.
Though OM struggled to threaten very often in the first half, they didn't hang about in the second half. Straight after the players returned from the dressing rooms after the break, Payet won a corner following some good work by Sakai on the right, though the man from Reunion's resulting shot was blocked. He took responsibility for taking the corner and placed it right on the head of Rami, who was alone and unmarked at the back post. The defender seized the opportunity and sent the ball into the back of the net with a powerful header. Phew! The stalemate was broken at last. Little inclined to venture out of their own half, the Turks closed ranks a bit more. This gave OM even more of the ball to a certain extent, and they took advantage of it. Amavi picked out Germain, whose volley crashed against Kirintili's crossbar. On the one hour mark it was Pelé's turn to be saved by the bar when Bourabia unleashed a powerful shot. Sakai had a shot stopped by the opposition's keeper then Payet just missed getting one on target.
Rudi Garcia took advantage of the one-goal lead to make some changes, with the team due back in action again on Sunday afternoon in Amiens. Ocampos, Sarr and Zambo Anguissa came on as replacements for Germain, Thauvin and Payet, three players whose freshness could be very useful at Amiens' Stade de la Licorne stadium. Sanson came within an inch of doubling the score but Kirintili managed to knock it past for a corner. The few chances the Turks had at the end of the match were dealt with well by Pelé and his defence.
After two defeats in a row in Ligue 1, OM thus gets back into winning ways at home in the Europa League. This narrow 1-0 victory achieves the essential: first place in group I and regained confidence.
Group I as it stands
Matchday 1: 14 September
OM 1-0 Konyaspor
Vitoria SC 1-1 RB Salzburg
1/ OM: 3 points
2/ RB Salzburg: 1 point
3/ Vitoria SC: 1 point
4/ Konyaspor: 0 points
Matchday 2: 28 September
RB Salzburg – OM
Konyaspor – Vitoria SC